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
info@iat.castiglione-del-lago.pg.it
The Gothic church of Saint Mary of Servants is located right outside the medieval city walls of Città della Pieve, next to the Roman gate. 
Since the 13th century we have records of a church devoted to Our Lady of the Star, located near the former Hospital of Ssints Philip and James, where the Servants of Mary settled in the middle of the1200s, establishing a small parish with an annexed convent. Work continued for a century both in the church and in the convent, greatly increased between 1486 and 1487. After the ecclesiastical suppressions during the Unification of Italy the convent became city hospital.
The plan 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 details, later walled up, are still visible, with trefoil arches made of brick. 
Around the mid-19th century a bell 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 large wardrobe in the Sacristy, commissioned in 1628 to Giuseppe di Francesco Bendini di Montepulciano. 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 (1517) by Pietro Vannucci, called Perugino, although incomplete, is one of the highest moments of his artistic production, few years before his death. Here the Master was also inspired by the sentimental 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 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 wall cavity, 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.