Supper in the House of Simon
Agnolo di Polo or Benedetto Buglioni, attributed to
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This painted terracotta sculpture is in one of the chapels of the Sacro Monte at San Vivaldo. The Sacro Monte (literally sacred mountain) is a pilgrimage site built by the Franciscans. Small chapels each contain painted terracotta sculptures with events from the Passion of Christ. These chapels are arranged on the hilly terrain so that they evoke the actual geography in the Holy Land of the places in which the events occurred. In a time in which pilgrimage to the Holy Land was for the most part impossible (because the territory was under Muslim control), the Sacro Monte offered a substitute or a simulacrum that was thought to be efficacious. In 1516, at the request of the Franciscans of San Vivaldo, Pope Leo X promulgated a brief granting indulgences (time off purgatory) to all who visited the site, which made it a major pilgrimage destination. At this and other Sacri Monti (of which there are several in Lombardy and Piedmont), devotees were to come in penitence, perhaps at night with a lantern, and move from chapel to chapel saying prayers. This chapel does not seem to have been mentioned in the papal documents of 1516, and so might be later, but the sculptures have been attributed on the basis of style to Agnolo di Polo, a follower of Verrocchio, or to Benedetto Buglioni, both of whom specialized in terracotta and worked on reliefs at San Vivaldo c. 1510-15. Photograph(s) licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.