Recently reopened for worship thanks to careful restoration, the Church of Santa Maria a Ripalta dates to the mid twelfth century.
Dependent on the nearby Sant'Andrea parish, Santa Maria saw a great increase in its wealth during the thirteenth century when several well-off Pistoian families, who had chosen to live in the Borgo di Ripalta just outside the second circle of city wails, donated great works of art to enrich the church.
The Taviani family's commission of an important fresco work for the choir is particularly noteworthy: The Ascension was painted in the late 1200s by Manfredino d'Alberto. Later the Ripalta parishioners commissioned Giovanni Pisano to make the wooden Crucifix that is housed today in the nearby church of Sant'Andrea, The cross would become the object of special devotion because of the miracles it is said to have performed during the terrible plague that hit Pistoia at the end of the fourteenth century.
An inscription under the portico recalls how the bishop Andrea Franchi ordered a procession with the aim of driving away the sickness. As worship of the miraculous image became more widespread, the Chapel of the Crucifix was built and became the right wing of the transept.
Outside a portico of semi-circular arches was added in the seventeenth century; this leads to the large interior hall which still preserves remarkable fragments of carefully restored frescos that add an important chapter to the history of Medieval painting in Pistoia. In the lunette on the façade, we see a thirteenth century Majestas Domini which, like the Ascension on the choir, has been attributed to Manfredino d'Alberto.
In the 1300s other artists were at work in the Ripalta Church: Antonio Vite who painted the Virgin and Child fresco as well as the Master of the Bracciolini Chapel, who created the Lamentation of the Deposed Christ.
Via Sant'Andrea - Pistoia
Comune di Pistoia