During the first half of the 1300s, a girl n the Ospedale dei Santi Donnino e Lorenzo was cured of her infirmity thanks to the grace of the Virgin Mary.
After this miracle, the hospital room where the event had taken place was made into an oratory. A talented painter who takes his name from the event, the Master of 1336, painted the fresco of the Virgin just as she had appeared to the sick young girl.
A century later a church was built in place of the oratory and was named after the Madonna delle Grazie or del Letto because one of the chapels on the left wall housed the bed from which the girl saw the miraculous apparition.
The church, sober yet at the same time elegant, has a simple doorway on the front framed by the candelabra decorations carved on the door posts and by the large lunette with Pistoia's coat of arms at the center.
It is a fine example of Renaissance architecture and in its structure we can see the influence of the great Florentine architect Michelozzo. Although the designer is unknown, we do know the economic contribution that the City Council made to embellish the sanctuary which had always been a special place of worship for the people of Pistoia.
It is known that the Pistoian architect Ventura Vitoni took part in the building phase, since his presence has been documented at all the most important city construction sites of the late fifteenth century.
The inside, with a single nave covered by a beautiful lacunar ceiling, culminates in the imposing choir that seems almost like a building itself; it recalls the central arrangement of other churches dedicated to the Virgin, like the basilica of the Madonna dell'Umiltà.
The high altar preserves the fourteenth century fresco executed in occasion of the miracle and later transferred to the altar once the church had been finished. The portion of the choir that preserves intact its Renaissance appearance makes clear reference to the model that must have inspired the church: Brunelleschi's Pazzi Chapel in the Church of Santa Croce in Florence.
Next to the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie there used to be a convent for nuns of the Augustinian Order. The entire religious complex was suppressed at the end of the eighteenth century by order of Bishop Scipione de' Ricci and was incorporated into the patrimony of the Ospedale del Ceppo.
The church began once again to serve parochial functions around the middle of the last century.
Piazza San Lorenzo - Pistoia
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Comune di Pistoia