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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. On his way to Calvary, according to the Apocrypha, Christ was approached by a woman who wiped his face with her veil. His features were miraculously imprinted on that veil, which was known as the Vera Icon (true image), and so the woman came to be called Veronica. This painted sculpture of a miraculous image could be said to parallel the whole project of the Sacro Monte, a simulacrum of pilgrimage sites that in turn physically connect viewers of the events that happened there. Almost all of the other sculptures at the site depict narratives, often in ways which make the viewer a part of the scene. Here instead Veronica is shown displaying her veil as a kind of icon, and the narrative is relegated to the predella beneath. (Unfortunately, a presumably later metal bar obscures a view of Veronica's face.) Scholars have suggested that Giovanni della Robbia oversaw the sculptures at the Sacro Monte, and that many of the works there are by Agnolo di Polo or Benedetto Buglioni, but this work does not fit neatly into the oeuvres of any of those artists and so remains anonymous. The more fluid central figure may be by a different hand from the stiffer predella, though the variation in style may be because of scale. Photograph(s) licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.