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Santa Mustiola (13th century: demolished)

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St Mustiola holding the Virgin’s wedding ring

Detail of the Triptych of Justice (see below)

The church of Santa Mustiola was dedicated to St Mustiola (below), the patron saint of Chiusi.  It originally belonged to a community of Augustinian canons and seems to have been dependent upon the canonical church of Santa Mustiola, Chiusi (see below).

The church seems to have been abandoned by 1454, when it passed to the Confraternita di Sant' Andrea della Giustizia.  (The brothers had occupied adjacent properties since 1439).  The confraternity moved to the Oratorio dei SS Andrea e Bernardino in 1537, and the church was demolished shortly thereafter.  A community of Capuchin nuns built the church and nunnery of Santa Chiara on the (probable) site in 1552.

St Mustiola (3rd July)

The Roman Martyrology records under 3rd July: “At Chiusi, in Tuscany, in the reign of the emperor Trajan, the holy martyrs Irenaeus, deacon, and Mustiola, a matron, who were subjected to various atrocious tortures and merited the crown of martyrdom”.

St Mustiola was apparently buried in the Catacomba di Santa Mustiola, the Christian catacomb (3rd century) outside Chiusi that is now dedicated to her.  A church dedicated as Santa Mustiola was built over the graves in the 5th century and rebuilt in 728.  It subsequently housed a community of Augustinian canons.  

After the theft of the Santo Anello from Chiusi in 1473 and its illicit transfer to Perugia (see below), the parties submitted to the arbitration of Pope Sixtus IV.  He found in favour of Perugia, but pacified Chiusi by recognising the authenticity of the newly rediscovered relics of St Mustiola and authorising her cult.

Santo Anello

The "Santo Anello" is a quartz ring that is said to have served as the Virgin’s wedding ring on her marriage to St Joseph.  It was stolen from Chiusi in 1473 and turned up soon after in Perugia.   (It is now in the Cappella del Santo Anello in the Duomo).

At the time of the theft, the ring had been in San Francesco, Chiusi, but it had previously been in the keeping of the canons of Santa Mustiola there (in Santa Mustiola itself until 1251 and then in the Duomo of Chiusi, which was administered by the canons, until 1420).  There was thus a strong link between the cult of St Mustiola and that of the Santo Anello: she was often portrayed holding the ring, particularly in churches associated with Santa Mustiola, Chiusi.

Art from the Church

Triptych of Justice (1475-6)

This triptych was generally attributed to Fiorenzo di Lorenzo until Michael Bury (below) discovered a document in the archives of the Confraternita di Sant' Andrea della Giustizia that records its commission from Bartolomeo Caporali and Sante di Apollonio del Celandro.  The altarpiece moved with the brothers to the Oratorio dei SS Andrea e Bernardino in 1537.  It was given to the Commune before 1872 and entered the Galleria Nazionale in 1895.

  1. In the central panel, two members of the confraternity kneel before the Madonna and Child, who are flanked by a pair of angels. 

  2. The side panels depict:

  3. SS Mustiola and Andrew; and

  4. SS Peter and Francis. 

  5. The significance of the fact that St Mustiola holds the Virgin’s wedding ring is set out above.  The association here is particularly poignant, given that the ring had been stolen from Chiusi and moved to Perugia only two years before the triptych was commissioned.

  6. The predella depicts:

  7. SS Bernardino and John the Baptist, on the left;

  8. the Pietà with the Virgin and St John the Evangelist at the centre, flanked by another two members of the confraternity; and

  9. St Jerome and a soldier saint on the right.

Read more:

M. Bury, “Bartolomeo Caporali: a New Document and its Implications”, Burlington Magazine, 132 (1990) 469-75

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