Key to Umbria: Gualdo Tadino

Nunneries of Gualdo Tadino

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Santa Margherita (1328, rebuilt 1453)

Alessandro Vincioli, bishop of Nocera, authorised the establishment of a convent  for a community of female Fanciscan tertiaries on this site outside Porta San Donato in 1328.  A later bishop of Nocera, Giovanni Marcolini da Fano, arranged for the convent to be restored and extended in 1453.  Clausura was imposed on the community in 1569.

The church was rebuilt and then remodelled in the Baroque style.

The community absorbed that of Santa Chiara (below) in 1704.

The nuns were expelled from the complex in 1810-4, but were able to transfer to the he Monastero di Santa Maria Maddalena (below).  Their community was formally suppressed again in 1860, but the nuns managed to remain in residence at Santa Margherita until 1895, when they moved back to the Monastero di Santa Maria Maddalena.

A proposal in 1888-9 to use the ex-nunnery for the Pinacoteca Comunale came to nothing.  It was subsequently used by a co-operative of majolica manufacturers.

Art from the Church

Standing Saints (14th century)


These frescoes detached from a wall in the church in 1935 and are now in the Pinacoteca Comunale.  They depict:

  1. SS Mark and (probably) Facondinus;

  2. St Margaret (identified when the tail of a dragon was discovered to the lower right during a recent restoration); and

  3. St Louis of Toulouse and an unidentified saint (perhaps St Venantius of Camerino).

Dossal (15th century)

This dossal, which was sequestered from the nuns in 1889, is now in the Pinacoteca Comunale.  It depicts scenes from the life of Christ:
  1. the Crucifixion with the Virgin and St John the Evangelist, at the pinnacle;

  2. two scenes in the upper register:

  3. the Nativity; and

  4. the Adoration of the Magi; and

  5. two scenes in the lower register:

  6. the Capture of Christ; and

  7. the Resurrection.

The panel was probably part of a triptych.

Madonna and Child with saints (1462)

This altarpiece from Santa Margherita, which is now in the Pinacoteca Comunale, is the earliest surviving signed and dated work by Matteo da Gualdo.  It depicts the Madonna and Child with angels and flanked by SS Francis, Bernardino of Siena and SS Margaret of Antioch and Catherine of Alexandria.  SS Bonaventure and Louis of Toulouse in tondi above, flank a tondo containing a tabernacle: this probably alludes to the role of the Madonna as a tabernacle housing the unborn Christ during her pregnancy.

Madonna and Child with saint (16th century)

This panel from Santa Margherita, which is now in the Pinacoteca Comunale, depicts the Madonna and Child with SS Catherine of Alexandria and Joseph and the young St John the Baptist.

Santa Chiara (1575)

In 1575, the church of Santa Maria di Tadino and an adjacent hospice of the Confraternita di Santa Maria dei Raccomandati passed to a community of Poor Clares and was rededicated to Santa Chiara.  This followed an apostolic visit of Monsignor Pietro Camagliani in 1573 to their original Monastero di San Pietro in Col della Noce, outside Porta San Facondino.  In the final terms of transfer, this original nunnery was transferred to the confraternity.

As noted above, this community absorbed that of Santa Margherita in 1704.

The complex served as the Ospedale di San Lazzaro from ca. 1850 until 1909, when the new hospital (Ospedale Calai) was built.   It was then adapted for residential use.

SS Lucia e Maria Maddalena (1381) 

This community was formed by the merger of two others in 1348:

  1. The Benedictine nunnery of Santa Lucia was established on Col della Noce, outside Porta San Facondino, in ca. 1332. 

  2. The first notice on Santa Maria Maddalena dates to 1258, when Pope Alexander IV confirmed the nuns’ wish to follow the rule of the Poor Clares of San Damiano.  The location of this nunnery is unknown: so too is that of the nuns’ new complex, to which Rolando da Ferentino, the Rector of the Duchy of Spoleto,  transferred them in 1285. 

In 1381, the combined community moved to a new complex on this site, which was established by incorporating a pre-existing chapel of  San Tommaso and other premises that had belonged to the Confraternita di San Bernardo.  The nuns enjoyed the patronage of the episcopal authorities of Gualdo Tadino and of the papacy. 

Tthe community began to decline in the 18th century.  Bishop Francesco Piervissani of Nocera, suppressed it and used the site for a new school, the Istituto Femminile di Istruzione Pubblica, which he entrusted to the Suore del Bambin Gesù.  These sisters still operate a school on the site.

Art from the Complex

Assumption of the Virgin with saints (15th century)

This damaged panel, which is attributed to Matteo da Gualdo and which now forms part of the Collection of the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Perugia could have come from SS Lucia e Maria Maddalena.  It depicts he Madonna and Child with SS Mary Magdalene and Lucy.