Regione Toscana
Provincia di Lucca
Fondazione Banca del Monte di Lucca
Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Lucca

Santa Maria Corteorlandini, detta Santa Maria Nera


Questa chiesa di antica origine, ricostruita alla fine del XII secolo, fu rimodellata a partire dalla fine del Cinquecento, quando vi si insediò una neo-istituita e assai attiva Congregazione religiosa, oggi nota come dei Chierici Regolari della Madre di Dio. Il ruolo ricoperto da essa nel periodo della Controriforma è documentato anche dal corredo interno, raro esempio a Lucca del linguaggio barocco, un tempo comprendente anche opere di Luca Giordano e Guido Reni.

Comprensorio: Piana di Lucca
Comune: Lucca
Notizie storiche:

Located in the northern part of the town sharing its northern wall with the large monastery of the Regular Priests of the Mother of God, this church, whose name derives from its historical role in the Rolandinghi family, has a central nave and two side aisles, originally with three apses, of which the main one has been made rectangular.

An inscription at the door of the vestry records that an older building was completely rebuilt in 1188 by the maestro Guido. The remains of this building, after the renovation in the 16th century, are limited to the southern wall and two side apses. The brick bell tower dates to the 14th century.

The church gained importance in the Middle Ages and was rectorate until 1580. However, the church’s history is indissolubly tied to the Regular Priests of the Mother of God. This congregation was founded in 1574 by Giovanni Leonardi of Diecimo, a priest from the Dominican monastery of S. Romano, by the title Reformed Priests of the holy Virgin (then Congregation of the Secular Priests of the Holy Virgin and from 1614 Regular Priests of the Mother of God). It became a rectory in 1583 and in 1595, with the permission of Rome, it gained independence from the bishop. In 1621 it was elevated by Gregorio XV to the status of religious order, thanks to bishop Alessandro Guidiccioni senior the congregation acquired the church of S. Maria Corteorlandini in 1580, and, a few decades later, it was the town’s most important cultural centre, with a huge library, where some of Lucca’s most learned scholars of the 17th and 18th century studied. The monastery became the centre of diffusion of the church’s new cultural politics after the counter reform, a position reflected in the transformation of the building into one of the first and most original examples of the baroque in Lucca.

The transformation of the interior began in 1583, with the substitution of the old with new columns in marble from Carrara and the reconstruction of the presbyterial area where, in 1593, the high-altar was consecrated, to be substituted again in 1719. In 1600 a collapse caused by the building works undertaken provided the occasion for realising an even more ambitious renovation project. The building was extended towards the façade, totally rebuilt before 1637. All the interior altars and presbytery were renovated. In 1662, the chapel of the Madonna of Loreto was built, copying the Holy House of the famous Marian sanctuary in Marche region. Next to the church, where the old rectory stood, the monastery was built, now used in part by the State Library. The alterations were completed by a complex mix of decorations using frescos, stucco work and paintings by Scorzini and Brugieri before 1715.

The interior still largely reflects the arrangement reached in this renovation phase and likewise most of the pictorial decorations date to the 18th century. An important exception is the fresco of the Madonna that was discovered after the removal of a 17th century painting for restoration, attributed to one of the most interesting artists in the Lucca area in the 14th century, also author of a lacunose Madonna and Child held at Camporgiano. At one time the church also held valuable works by artists such as Luca Giordano and Guido Reni. The former painted an Assumption which was destroyed in the early 20th century, while the latter was the author of two works, one presently held at the Uffizi, the other at the Museum of Villa Guinigi.

There is also the work of famous local painters, including Francesco Vanni, Giovanni Marracci and Gaspare Mannucci.
Other works of similar value include a frontal embroidered with corals and a large Eucharistic ciborium in silver and lapislazuli by the Flemish goldsmith Giovanni Vambré il Vecchio.

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