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Raffaello Sanzio, known as Raphael (Urbino, Italy 1483 – Rome, Italy 1520), Madonna of Foligno, 1511-12, oil on wood transferred to canvas, 308 cm x 198 cm, Vatican City, Pinacoteca

This beautiful work of art was commissioned to Raphael by Sigismondo de' Conti, a distinguished humanist from Foligno, Italy and secretary of Pope Julius II. The painting was meant to be a thanksgiving to the Virgin for having saved his house in Foligno, struck by lightning or a fireball. We can see a reference to this story both in the beautiful landscape in the background - we can see a small town and a solid house about to be struck by a flaming trail coming down from the sky - and in the little angel in the centre of the painting holding an empty plaque, probably destined to commemorate the vow fulfilled by the Virgin.

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Art for Mediatation - October 2020

Raffaello Sanzio, known as Raphael (Urbino, Italy 1483 – Rome, Italy 1520), The Marriage of the Virgin, 1504, oil on wood, 170 cm x 117 cm, Milan, Italy, Pinacoteca di Brera.


The first thing that strikes us in this masterful work by a young Raphael is the building in the background. It is quite elegant, with a central plan, and has a portico all around it and a dome. The two opposite doors are open and therefore allow our eye to follow the landscape and the sky beyond the building. Its shape seems circular, even though it is actually built with 16 sides. We can also see a polygonal staircase all around the building, and a foreshortened squared floor.

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Art for meditation - September 2020

Raffaello Sanzio, known as Raphael (Urbino, Italy 1483 – Rome, Italy 1520), St. Michael, 1505, oil on wood, 30 cm x 26 cm, Paris, Louvre Museum.

29 September, Feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael.

The work was mentioned in 1587 in a sonnet by Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo, a Milanese painter and man of letters, who blamed a rich but ignorant fellow citizen who sold to Ascanio Sforza, Count of Piacenza, this small painting together with another, of equal size, representing St. George and the dragon. Both paintings went from Piacenza into the collection of Cardinal Mazzarino and finally into the royal collection of Louis XIV, which today constitutes the most important, notable part of the Louvre Museum.

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Art for meditation - August 2020

Raphael Sanzio (Urbino, 1483 - Rome, 1520), The transfiguration, 1518-20, rich tempera on panel, 405 x 278 cm, Vatican, Vatican Pinacoteca.

6th of August, feast of the Transfiguration.

We have already written about this magnificent board (cf. month of October 2017) presenting the mysteries of the Rosary. Its beauty is such, its fame is so great, that we wish to add other and different considerations on the same.

First of all, let us remember the great importance of the painting. It was commissioned to Raphael by Cardinal Giulio De' Medici, cousin of Pope Leo X (Giovanni De' Medici, son of Lorenzo the Magnificent, while Giulio was the son of Giuliano, Lorenzo's youngest brother murdered in the Pazzi conspiracy).

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Art for meditation - July 2020

Raffaello Sanzio, known as Raphael (Urbino, Italy 1483 – Rome, Italy 1520), Deliverance of Saint Peter, 1513-14, fresco, 660 cm wide, Vatican, Vatican Museums.

Month of July.

This fresco, like the one seen last month, is also located in one of the four rooms of Pope Julius II's apartments. Today, it is called “Heliodorus' room,” and it was once destined for the Pope's private audiences; all four walls had as many episodes in which God's miraculous protection of the Church and its Popes was manifested.

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Art for meditation - June 2020

Raffaello Sanzio, known as Raphael (Urbino, Italy 1483 – Rome, Italy 1520), Disputation of the Holy Sacrament, 1509, fresco, 500 cm x 770 cm, Vatican, Vatican Museums.

14 June, Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi). 

The large fresco is part of the decoration of one of the 4 Raphael Rooms, painted with his students for Pope Julius II of the Della Rovere family, who entrusted the young genius from Urbino with the task of painting the rooms of his private apartment.

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Art for meditation - May 2020

Raffaello Sanzio, known as Raphael (Urbino, Italy 1483 – Rome, Italy 1520), Madonna and Child with the Infant John the Baptist (known as Madonna of the Goldfinch), around February 1506, oil on wood, 107 cm x 77 cm, Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi.

Month of May.

The peculiarity of Raphael's painting is not so much the subject (the Virgin was often represented with the little Jesus and his cousin John the Baptist) but the choice to set the scene in a completely open space. The panel was painted for Lorenzo Nasi, who wanted it in his Florence’s house on the occasion of his marriage to Sandra Canigiani, held on February 23, 1506.

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Art for meditation - April 2020

Raffaello Sanzio, known as Raphael (Urbino, Italy 1483 – Rome, Italy 1520), The Deposition, 1507, oil on wood, 184 cm x 176 cm, Rome, Galleria Borghese.

10 April, Good Friday. 

This beautiful painting is signed and dated (RAPHAEL URBINAS MDVII) on the rock in the bottom left corner, showing that it was an important work for the painter as well.

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Art for Mediatation - March 2020

Raffaello Sanzio, known as Raphael (Urbino, Italy 1483 – Rome, Italy 1520), The Annunciation, 1502-1504, tempera on panel, 27 cm x 50 cm, Vatican City, Vatican Museums.

25 March, Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord.

This small painting is part of the predella of a large altarpiece depicting the Coronation of Mary. It is called Oddi Altarpiece because it was painted by Raphael for the altar of the Oddi family chapel in the church of San Francesco al Prato in Perugia, Italy. The painting, delivered at the beginning of the sixteenth century, is the youthful work considered the closest to the style of Perugino, the master of the great painter from Urbino.

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Art for Mediatation - February 2020

Raffaello Sanzio, known as Raphael (Urbino, Italy 1483 – Rome, Italy 1520), Madonna of the chair, 1513-14, oil on panel, 71 cm x 71 cm, Florence, Italy, Palatine Gallery

The size of the panel makes us think of a painting intended for private devotion. The type of chair on which the Virgin was painted (it is a "chamber chair", which was widespread in the papal court during the Renaissance) and the fact that the painting appeared in the Medici Palace in Florence a few decades after its execution lead us to suppose that it was commissioned to Raphael by Pope Leo X, of the Medici family (he was the second son of Lorenzo the Magnificent), to make a gift perhaps to his nephew Lorenzo, lord of Florence since 1516.

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Art for Mediatation - January 2020

Raffaello Sanzio, known as Raphael (Urbino, Italy 1483 – Rome, Italy 1520), Sistine Madonna, 1513-14, oil on canvas, 265 cm x 196 cm, Dresden, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister.

1 January, Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God.

On 6 April 2020 will be the 500th anniversary of the death of Raphael, certainly one of the absolute geniuses of the Italian Renaissance. A selection of his works will accompany us during this year, sure that the pinnacles of beauty reached by the painter from Urbino will help our reflections.

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Art for Mediatation - December 2019

santa eulalia 680

School of Francisco de Zurbarán (Fuente de Cantos, Spain 1598 – Madrid, Spain 1664), Saint Eulalia, 1640-50, 173 cm x 103 cm, oil on canvas, Seville, Spain, Museum of Fine Arts.

10 December, Memory of Saint Eulalia.

Let's start by reading some of the verses that a modern poet, Federico García Lorca, dedicated to the most famous saint in Spain, the martyr Eulalia. They are taken from one of the 18 "Romances" that constitute his most important poetic collection, Romancero gitano (Gypsy Ballads), published in 1928.

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