Saint Birgitta of Sweden in Florentine Art

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The main focus of this article is the representations of Saint Birgitta in Florentine art. Birgitta had some powerful friends in the city, among them members of the Acciaiuoli family. For example, Niccolò, who built the Certosa del Galluzzo (a former monastery of the Carthusian order now inhabited by Cistercian monks and located at the entrance to the city) between 1341–1365, was a close friend of Birgitta, as was his sister, Lapa Buondelmonti Acciaiuoli, and another brother, Angelo Acciaiuoli, a Dominican friar at Santa Maria Novella. Birgitta might have visited the city herself for short periods although we have no conclusive evidence regarding this. In the Certosa there is still a relief made by Andrea della Robbia showing Saint Birgitta with her Pilgrim Cross and Book of Revelations. The explanation for the appearance of Birgittine images in the city lies in the presence of Birgitta’s supporters in Florence and in the attempts of both Dominicans and Franciscans to establish her cult. There was also a Birgittine institution in Florence, a double monastery called Paradiso, which was the only house in Tuscany to be founded by the order, and only the third anywhere outside Sweden. This paper explores the images of Saint Birgitta of Sweden in Florence and suggests the reasons behind the selection of scenes from her life and writings. Some explanation is also given regarding the Dominicans’ veneration of the saint.
Original languageEnglish GB
Title of host publicationThe Birgittine Experience: Papers from the Birgitta Conference in Stockholm 2011
EditorsClaes Gejrot, Mia Åkestam, Roger Andersson
Place of PublicationStockholm
PublisherVitterhets Historie och Antikvitets Akademien
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9174024175, 9789174024173
StatePublished - 2013


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