Collegiata dei Santi Quirico e Giulitta

Once an ancient parish church preceded by an 8th-century baptistry, the present building was built towards the end of the 12th, or at the beginning of the 13th century. The oldest part seems to be the façade and, in particular, the main portal. The end of the church was completely altered with the demolition of the original apse in 1653 to build the choir. The building has a Latin cross plan, an aisleless nave and apse chapels. The most significant of the three portals is the main one, in Lombard style, consisting of a slightly jutting prothyrum with a round arch, decorated and supported on two pairs of small, sandstone columns on each side; these are knotted in the centre and rest on lions. At the top of the columns is the round arch. Within the prothyrum there are five columns on the left and five on the right, with capitals decorated with animals and acanthus leaves. The architrave of the portal bears two facing crocodiles. The enthroned figure sculpted in high-relief in the middle of the lunette has been thought to be an image of St Damasus, but actually represents St Quirico. The decoration of the portal follows a symbolic Christian iconography which derives from Lombard art. In the second half of the 13th century, work was undertaken to enlarge the church. This consisted in the addition of the transept and the two side portals on Via Francigena. The first of the side portals, built in 1288, has been attributed to Giovanni Pisano who was occupied at that time (1287-88) with the construction of Siena Cathedral. Above the portal there is an inscription in Gothic characters reading “Iohes”, interpreted either as Pisano’s first name, or as a reminder of the church’s former title, dedicated to St Quirico and St John the Baptist. The other portal on this side, opening in the wall of the transept, dates from 1298. It is the work of the parish priest Lotto (as inscribed on the architrave) who was probably also responsible for the transept itself. The portal shows a combination of Romanesque and Gothic elements. In 1644 the parish church was promoted to collegiate church. In 1724-1733, by order of Cardinal Anton Felice Zondadari, the old bell gable was knocked down to make way for a new one, and the interior of the church was remodelled in the Baroque style. In 1749 the choir stalls were also restored. They were carried out between 1482 and 1502 by the Sienese artist Antonio Barili for the St John the Baptist Chapel in Siena Cathedral. Having been taken apart, they were bought by the marquis Chigi in 1644. Only seven panels remain of the nineteen carried out by Barili, the others having been lost, except for the self-portrait of the artist which is in Vienna. Between 1798 and 1806 a new bell tower was erected. In 1878 a stucco pulpit was made, later moved to the church of the Madonna di Vitaleta. The building underwent further modifications following post-war restoration work. To the left of the main altar is the large 15th-century altar piece with a gold background, attributed to Sano di Pietro. It portrays the Madonna and Child with Angels and Saints (including St Quirico). The lunette features the Resurrection and Jesus’ Descent into Limbo. The predella contains paintings showing the coat of arms of the Commune of San Quirico, and five episodes from the Life of the Madonna. In the floor to the left of the nave, as you enter the church, is the tombstone of the Count Prince Henry of Nassau who died in 1451. The visible part of the organ is in 18th-century Venetian style with friezes and pure gold gilding. It was transferred here from the Abbey of Monteoliveto in 1810. On the left side of the nave is the Chapel of Suffrage, which is of more recent construction. It contains an early 16th-century detached fresco known as the Madonna of the Apple or the Madonna delle Grazie, attributed to Girolamo di Benvenuto, and the painting by Rutilio Manetti portraying the Madonna of the Rosary Rescuing a Drowning Girl (early 15th century)

Related book: L'Amiata e la Val d'Orcia


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