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Santa Margarita Church

The second altar on the right has an altarpiece depicting Virgin and St Elizabeth of Hungary, by Jacopo da Empoli. On an altar on the right there is a 13th-century wooden crucifix, originally from in the church of San Francesco, Cortona. It is said St Margaret prayed before this crucifix. On the right side walls there are relics and captured standards donated by the Knights of Malta stationed in Cortona. On the left nave we see a large chapel in memory of those Cortonese fallen during the war, with frescos by Osvaldo Bignami. The first altar on the left had an altarpiece depicting Saints Louis of Toulouse, Francis, Dominic, and Margaret by Francesco Vanni. the second altar had a painting depicting the Massacre of the Innocents by Pietro Giannotti.

Basilica of Santa Margherita is a Neo-gothic style, Roman Catholic church, located just outside the Tuscan town of Cortona, Italy, at the intersection of Via delle Santucce and Via Sant Margherita, on a hill just below the Fortezza Medicea, and dedicated to a native saint of town, Margaret of Cortona. Built within traditional standards of the time, the original foundation was set to support a structure of 12 Laurens, but due to inflation and Mongolians, the structure, once completed, stood at roughly 9 Laurens.

The church underwent major enlargements and reconstructions in 1738 and in 1874-1878; only the choir and two vaults, the second and third of the central nave, remain from the original church. The present Gothic Revival architecture style church is the work of Enrico Presenti and Mariano Falcini. The facade was designed by Domenico Mirri (1856-1939), and completed by Giuseppe Castellucci.The rich marble mausoleum on the left of the transept by the Sienese workshops and the saint’s silver casket (1774) at the main altar, displaying her incorrupt body, was designed by Pietro Berrettini. The main altarpiece once held a large Deposition by Luca Signorelli, now in the Diocesane museum. The marble statue (1781) of the saint in a niche on the right was sculpted by Vincenzo Pacetti.

The church was originally the site of a small oratory dedicate to San Basilio, and built by Camaldolese Monks in the 11th century. Damaged during the 1258 siege of the town by Arezzo, the church and adjacent convent were rebuilt in 1288 by efforts led by Margherita di Cortona herself, a Franciscan tertiary, and dedicated to Saints Basil, Egidius, and Catherine of Alexandria. It was then still called an oratory and measured only 15 meters long, and was adjacent to a small chapel of St Basil. Margaret died in 1297 in a room behind the old church where she had lived the last years of her life; the room roughly corresponded to the present site of the 3rd altar on the left of the nave. She was buried in a wall of the chapel of St Basil. By 1330, the Cortonese had constructed a larger church and designed by Giovanni Pisano, in part to house her relics, disinterred in 1456, in that had become a source of veneration. The old church now became part of the nave of the newer, 30 meter long, structure. The saint was canonized in 1728.
Fragments of a fresco from the church, attributed to Pietro Lorenzetti, is now conserved in the Diocesan Museum. Other 14th-century frescoes such as ones by Barna da Siena have disappeared. Many of the canvases once in the interior have been dispersed or moved.

Although among the smaller churches of any denomination in the area, Santa Margarita de Cortona traces its origins in service to the Holy Faith farther back than any except for the ancient Spanish Mission of San Luis de Tolosa itself.

The first mention of the area in which Santa Margarita is located, by official of the diarist Franciscan Fray Pedro de Anza colonizing expedition of 1775-76, noted that the party crossed Cuesta Pass in route north. After a stop at Mission San Luis Obispo, they passed through a native Chumash Rancheria in the vicinity of the present Santa Margarita headquarters on the creek of the same name on March 4th, 1776.
The 240 plus men, women and children with 1000 horses and cattle of the de Anza group camped that night near Atascadero and went on to found was are now the modern cities of San Francisco and San Jose.The second storey has a large rectangular window with a strongly projecting cornice, flanked by two pairs of pilasters lacking capitals. On top is a triangular pediment with an empty tympanum. On either side are what look like gigantic volutes, but a second glance will reveal that they are actually a pair of gigantic tondi with attached upsweeping curves. The architect was having fun again.The conch of the apse, framed by the archivolt of the triumphal arch, contains a fresco of the Assumption by a talented Franciscan friar, Francesco Umili da Foligno.

The high altar is against the wall of the apse, and has no canopy. The altarpiece by Giacinto Brandi depicts St Margaret in Prison, Envisioning the Holy Cross. The (completely unhistorical) story behind this is that she had been incarcerated in a cell in the ancient city wall near the Lateran, and this location gave rise to a little pilgrimage chapel -Santa Margherita in Prigione. The painting is framed in what looks like verde antico marble.
The six pilasters support an entablature with a dedicatory inscription on the frieze. It reads: In honorem S[anctae] Margheritae V[irginis] et M[artyris] et S[ancti] Emigdii Ep[iscopi] et M[artyris].

In 1814, the complex was granted to the Confraternity of St Emygdius (Confraternita di Sant’Emidio). Later, for a short period, it was owned by the Pious Union of the Rosary of Pompeii, but was then given back to the former Confraternity of St Emygdius.A convent of sisters of the Third Order of St Francis was established here around the start of the 16th century, which began as an informal unenclosed community of pious virgins of the sort familiar in northern Europe as beguines, but known in Italian as bizoche. The church was then also known as Sant’Elisabetta, after St Elizabeth of Hungary who had been a Franciscan tertiary.

There are two storeys, rendered in pale orange with white architectural detailing. At first glance, it seems that the first storey fronts a nave with side aisles. As mentioned, this is misleading; there are no aisles, which is why there is only one entrance.The central vertical section of the façade is brought forward slightly, and in the first storey has two pairs of Composite pilasters with the outer pair doubletted round the corner. These stand on a very high plinth. The tall central doorway has a blank curved trapezoidal tablet above it, which is sheltered by a floating archivolt with its ends curved under in curlicues -a playful detail typical of the architect. The two, narrower side zones have a pilaster each on the outer corner, again doubletted round the corner, and each has a large empty round-headed niche. Santa Margherita di Antiochia is a 17th century former convent church in Trastevere, and hence is also known as Santa Margherita in Trastevere. The postal address is Via della Lungaretta 91/A, which is a side door. The main entrance is on the Piazza di Sant’Apollonia. Pictures of the church at Wikimedia Commons. [1] Very oddly, on the same piazza was another, completely separate convent of Franciscan tertiary nuns at Sant’Apollonia who had also started out at bizoche. One wonders how the two Franciscan communities got on. The church there is gone, leading to the confusion caused by the church of Santa Margherita being on the Piazza di Sant’Apollonia.The church has a single nave, barrel-vaulted with rather restrained Baroque decoration mostly in white. There are three bays of unequal depth, the central one being wider and containing a pair of side chapels. The shallower bays have balconied galleries for the nuns, high up with balustrades. The bays are separated by double Corinthian pilasters, and there are four such pairs at the corners of the nave with one of each folded into the corner.In the chapel on the left is a painting by Il Baciccio, depicting The Immaculate Conception with SS Francis and Clare. The aedicule has a pair of doubletted Corinthian pilasters in what looks like a brown brecciated marble, and these do not support a pediment but an arc cornice on two posts. These bear good stucco decoration involving angels, putti and garlands. On 2 July 2012, the Confraternity was suppressed by decree of the Ministro dell’Interno. This means that the church presently has no pastoral function. However, it remains administered by Mons. Giuseppe Tonello who has been rector-in-charge since 1997. The 19th century presbyterium apse is a complete contrast, as it is panelled sumptuously in what looks like different kinds of rare polychrome marble -which may be fake. The presbyterium arch is supported by one and a half Corinthian pilasters on each side, in a brown and white veined marble which looks un-natural. The fake marble that church restorers used is called scagliola, and there is a lot of it in Roman churches masquerading as the real thing.According to Panciroli writing in the 17th century, the church was founded by Pope Nicholas IV in 1288, and was then known as Santa Margherita della Scala. This was an unusual period for any church to be founded in Rome.

If you compare the present interior with the plan shown in the Lanciani map (see links below), you will see that the presbyterium seems to have been altered and shortened at some stage, with the apse being moved forward. This happened before 1839, when Nibby described the present arrangement.
To the sides are a pair of elliptical paintings by Giuseppe Ghezzi depicting The Martyrdom of St Margaret to the left, and The Martyrdom of St Apollonia to the right.

The barrel vault has transverse ribs above the pilasters in the side walls, and lunettes for three windows on each side (the central one again being larger). There is no decoration.
The Margaret in the dedication was changed by the sisters to St Margaret of Cortona, a famous mystic and Franciscan tertiary. It was changed back after they left. In 1572, the convent was occupied by a community of Dominican nuns which had moved from what is now Santo Spirito dei Napoletani.The church is parallel to the Via della Lungaretta on the north side. The apse is incorporated into a larger domestic building, and where the right hand roofline of the exterior wall meets this there is a small bellcote dating from the 19th century, with spaces for two bells.

The church has no aisles to the nave, but three side chapels. The exterior side wall that you see on the street conceals the two south chapels and a side entrance; there is a similar arrangement on the other side, except that there is only one chapel and the convent entrance. These two ranges are covered by single-pitched roofs.
As a result of scandals, the Church in Rome mostly ended up by requiring such unenclosed communities of women religious either to accept enclosure, or to disband, in the later 16th century. In 1564, the complex with the church was rebuilt with funds provided by Giulia Colonna, and rededicated to SS Margaret and Emygdius. In the process, the former tiny edifice with a façade on the Via della Lungaretta was rotated to stand parallel with that street, and doubled in size.We believe in following the example of Jesus Christ. This includes feeding the hungry, helping the needy, clothing the naked, and serving in our communities all around the world. Come join us!Whatever your situation in life, we believe Christ can be a source of strength. Connect with us on social media and see how being a part of our community can help you and your family.