Città della Pieve

Church of St. Mary of Servants

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Tourist information and welcome office
Piazza Mazzini 10 - 06061 Castiglione del Lago
The Gothic church of Saint Mary of Servants is located right outside the medieval city walls of Città della Pieve, next to the Roman Door. 
Since the 13th century we have news of a church devoted to Our Lady of the Star, located near the former Hospital of St. Philip and James, where the servants of Mary, in the middle of 1200, settled, by establishing a small parish with an annexed convent. Works continued for all the century both in the church and in the convent, greatly increased between 1486 and 1487. After the ecclesiastical suppressions during the Unity of Italy the convent became city Hospital.
The plant of the church is typical of the monastic orders: the interior has just a nave with a square apse and a cross vault. On the façade, Gothic architectures, later walled up, are still visible. Trefoil arches are made of brick. 
Around mid-19th century a belt tower, designed in Neoclassical style by the architect Giovanni Santini, was built next to the church. 
The interior, remade in the 17th century, houses Baroque-style stucco decorations. Particularly interesting is the wooden choir and the big wardrobe of the Sacristy, commissioned in 1628 to Giuseppe di Francesco Bendini di Muntepulciano. On the first altar to the right, a fresco depicting Our Lady of the Star among Saints, with a typical Perugia style, was brought back to the light by demolishing a part of the Baroque stucco. The Baroque altar with stucco statues made by Bernini depicting the Blessed James Villa and the Blessed Matteo Lazzari on its sides has a particular theatrical effect. 
The Deposition from the Cross by Pietro Vannucci called the Perugino, one of the highest moments of its artistic production, now arrived few years from his death, in 1517, is defective. Here the Master is also inspired by the pathetic aspect of Raphael, his former pupil, now possessing an everlasting fame. The Christ indeed shows many connections with the art of the Urbino artist. The episode of Mary’s fainting shows, echoing the similar subject depicted by Giotto in the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, as the Perugino continued to be an interpreter of the typically Umbrian world of lauds, rooted in the medieval period. The Master represents a scene according to a very original version, with an extreme formal synthesis that is almost impressionistic, in the rapid touches of the landscapes, but at the same time stressing the drama of the event. 
The fresco, hidden by a gap, was rediscovered in 1834 by the German Antoine Remboux. After him, the fresco impressed several painters including Nazarenes, Purists and Pre-Raphaelites, who took him as source of inspiration for their romantic sensibility.