Friday 20 July 2018, Sant'Elia

Chiesa di Santa Maria in Organo

Historical Notes. A Benedictine Monastery, built during the Lombard era, St. Maria in Organo is the oldest monastery known in the city of Verona.
The monastery and its church were both rebuilt following the 1117 earthquake, and were again rebuilt during the period from halfway through the fifteenth century to mid sixteenth century, by the Olivetani, who had been called upon to support the abbacy following the Scala and Visconti dilapidation.
In the second half of the sixteenth century the abbacy hosted twenty-six monks.
The church and monastery were visited by illustrious foreign travellers, who all left enthusiastic written accounts of what they had seen, prior to the destructive blows inflicted by Napoleon’s army and the successive dominations.
The artistic patrimony suffered inevitable losses.
The altarpiece, by Mantegna, is now at the Brera Gallery in Milan.

Architecture and Art. The façade is unfinished and is divided into two distinct parts, the upper part is the oldest, and is built of tuff and fired brick, while the lower part is the work of Sammicheli and is in white marble.
The bell tower was built in the XV century. The interior is in Romanesque style with gothic elements; it is two storeys high and is divided into three naves. The central nave has many frescoes; the ones on the right are by Caroto and the ones on the left are by Giolfino.
Descending from the presbytery, it is possible to visit the subterranean church (or crypt), which is a rare and interesting example of pre-Romanesque architecture, with capital belonging to the first church and a famous marble altarpiece dated 1300, which is attributed to Giovanni of Rigino.

Choir and Sacristy. The most famous works inside the church are the wood inlays of the choir and sacristy, which depict urban scenes, allegories, still life pictures, etc.
It was realised at the end of the fifteenth century by the olivetan Frà Giovanni da Verona.
The complex gained the immediate admiration of Vasari, who defined the sacristy as the most beautiful one in Italy.

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Guides: Firenze, Roma, Venezia, Verona.