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Terracottas from the Monastery of San Vivaldo

San Vivaldo Monastery is a Roman Catholic convent, church, and sanctuary complex located outside of the town of Montaione, region of Tuscany, Italy. The eighteen distinct chapels on this hill, putatively corresponding to sites of the Holy Land, and containing vivid polychrome statuary groupings recalling events of the New Testament, specially the Passion of Jesus, are one of the few examples of the Sacri Monti complexes in Tuscany. Sacri Monti are more characteristic expressions of veneration in the Piedmont and Lombardy. The convent still houses the franciscan order.

The origins of San Vivaldo date the 1325, when a chapel was built at the site where the blessed Vivaldo, a Franciscan tertiary, had recently died. Located in a rural hillside, outside the town, the former hermitage site soon collected a monastery; and in 1326 to 1355, a church was built. In 1500, the arrival of the Franciscan Minor Friars to the site propelled the construction of the Sacro Monti, attempting to reproduce for the pilgrims, a replica of the topography of the holy places of Jerusalem, hence the site was also called the “Jerusalem of Tuscany”. Franciscans were at the time intermediaries for arranging pilgrimages to the Holy Land, as well as custodians of the sites.

The friars planning the display chose the local geography places to represent Jerusalem landmarks, for example a small forest to represent the Valley of Josaphat, small hill to represent the Mount of Olives and Calvary, and a flat area to the north of the complex to place the chapel representing the Temple.

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