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Mary, Music, and Meditation

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Burdened by famine, the plague, and economic hardship in the 1500s, the troubled citizens of Milan, mindful of their mortality, turned toward the veneration of the Virgin Mary and the creation of evangelical groups in her name. By 1594 the diversity of these lay religious organizations reflected in microcosm the varied expressions of Marian devotion in the Italian peninsula. Using archival documents, meditation and music books, and iconographical sources, Christine Getz examines the role of music in these Marian cults and confraternities in order to better understand the Church's efforts at using music to evangelize outside the confines of court and cathedral through its most popular saint. Getz reveals how the private music making within these cults, particularly among women, became the primary mode through which the Catholic Church propagated its ideals of femininity and motherhood.

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CHAPTER 1: Venerating the Veil: The Madonna of Miracles at Santa Maria presso San Celso

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Chapter 1

8

Venerating the Veil

The Madonna of Miracles at Santa Maria presso San Celso

“This most sacred virgin, as the tabernacle of God, was the idea of perpetual virginity, the form of everlasting honesty, the school of every virtue.”

—Paolo Morigia 1

History of the Cult of the Madonna of Miracles

Directly south of the Duomo of Milan on the Corso Italia stands the imposing church of Santa Maria presso San Celso. One of the most popular pilgrimage sites in early modern Milan, Santa Maria presso

San Celso is the home of the Madonna of Miracles, an image credited with healing numerous devotees of their infirmities and relieving the city of the devastating plagues of 1485 and 1576.2 The edifice originated as a small chapel that marked the location where St. Nazarenus, who, along with St. Celsus, was martyred around 395. According to the surviving accounts, the construction of the original chapel was initiated by St. Ambrose, who recovered both bodies and transferred that of St.

Nazarenus to the Chiesa degli Apostoli in the Porta Romana (now San

 

CHAPTER 2: The Art of Lamenting: The Cult of the Madonna Addolorata at Santa Maria dei Servi

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Chapter 2

8

The Art of Lamenting

The Cult of the Madonna Addolorata at Santa Maria dei Servi

“At the Cross her station keeping, stood the mournful

Mother weeping, close to Jesus to the last.”

—attributed to Jacopo da Todi 1

In his 1612 colloquy over the tears shed by the Blessed Virgin upon the death of her son, the Servite theologian Arcangelo Ballotino exhorts his readers to consider not only the suffering of Christ but also that of his mother. Ballotino gives voice to the Virgin’s desire to perish with her son rather than endure the intense pain of watching him suffer, and invites his readers to simulate her anguish mentally:

Christian Soul, consider how intense the sorrows that Jesus, the Son of God and the child of Mary, suffered in death, for the cry imitates the intensity of the pain; wherefore if Christ cried out in as loud a voice in death, it was because his sorrows were most intense. Consider still how painful were the troubles of

Mary, who was not able to form a word for the great sorrows that consumed her heart. She repeated only these words: Child, my Jesus; Jesus, my son, would you allow me to die with you?2

 

CHAPTER 3: Singing Before a Madonna on the Pilaster: The Society of the Ave Maria in Duomo

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Chapter 3

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Singing Before a Madonna on the Pilaster

The Society of the Ave Maria in Duomo

“Holy Mary, Mother of God,

Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.”

—attributed to Girolamo Savonarola

Like the Madonna of Miracles at Santa Maria presso San Celso, the ancient cult of the Madonna del Pilone (the Madonna on the Pilaster), more commonly known among the congregants at the Duomo as the

Ave Maria in Duomo, was a local one. It appears to have been entirely unrelated to the better-known cult of the same name in Torino, which dates to 29 April 1644. According to the surviving accounts of pastoral visits made to the Duomo by Federico Borromeo, the singing of the Ave

Maria at the Vespers hour before a Madonna affixed to a Pilaster originated during the late fifteenth century when a mendicant friar known as the “missionary from God” began preaching daily in the Piazza of the Duomo. He exhorted the Milanese not only to repent their sins and pledge to live in a Christian manner but also to enter the Duomo at the sound of the Vespers bells and sing the Ave Maria. The public response to this grassroots movement led certain gentlemen and merchants of the city to form a Society of the Ave Maria to support the practice.

 

CHAPTER 4: Invoking the Mulier Fortis: The Confraternity of the Rosary

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Chapter 4

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Invoking the Mulier Fortis

The Confraternity of the Rosary

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee

—Luke 1:28

For inhabitants of Post-Tridentine Italy, no instrument associated with the Blessed Virgin possessed more spiritual force than the Rosary. Also commonly known as the corona or garland, the Rosary was the primary means of accessing the intercessory power of Mary as Mulier

Fortis, the virtuous woman who crushed the head of the proverbial serpent.1 Praying the Rosary while meditating upon its fifteen mysteries allowed the devoted communicant to realize the miraculous potential of the Virgin’s influence and demonstrate its use in overcoming the ills of the world, and the activity was encouraged through the publication of Rosary books that described various techniques of praying the Rosary, as well as through volumes that recounted the numerous legends that had developed in connection with them. Bernardo Giunti’s

1587 Miracoli della sacratissima Vergine [Maria . . . del santissimo

 

CHAPTER 5: Clothed in the Sun and Standing on the Moon: Meditating Motherhood in the Cult of the Madonna del Parto

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Chapter 5

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Clothed in the Sun and Standing on the Moon

Meditating Motherhood in the Cult of the Madonna del Parto

“A certain Jewish woman, very tired from labor and unable to do anything but cry, and not expecting anything other than to give up the spirit immediately, having given up on the midwife and her pain and anguish nevertheless increasing, saw a great light come from above when between many pains of the soul and body and at the same time heard a voice from this light which said “invoke the name of Mary and you will be saved.”

The woman, all of a faithful heart and full of confidence in the Lord, invoked the name of Mary with a loud voice and immediately gave birth to a baby boy.”1

—Silvano Razzi, pub. 1587

In her seminal study Women of the Renaissance, Margaret L. King asserts that the lives of most Renaissance women were defined by motherhood.2 While women who nourished their own babies gave birth every twenty-four to thirty months, those who sent out their children to nurse conceived and brought children to term at an even faster rate.3 Infant mortality rates were relatively high and the pressure to produce an heir fairly intense. The Milanese tradesman Giambattista

 

EPILOGUE: The Case of Santa Maria Segreta

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144

Mary, Music, and Meditation

Santa Maria Segreta was founded under the pontificate of the

Archbishop Angilberto around 833 via the contributions of one

Damigella de’ Conti Fulcorino e Pedo and at some point thereafter passed under the supervision of the Humiliati. Upon the expulsion of the Humiliati in 1570, Carlo Borromeo placed the church under the supervision of the local priest Giovanni Battista Bagarotto, who administered as pastor of the parish until 1586 when it was awarded to the Somaschi. The edifice was razed in 1911 to make way for the

Palazzo delle Poste in the Piazza Cordusio, and with it much of the documentation regarding the original church was lost.1 According to

Serviliano Latuada, the church consisted of a single nave with four lateral chapels, one of which was devoted to Saint Ambrose and another of which honored the “Angelo Custode” (Guardian Angel). At the time of Latuada’s report in 1737, the former chapel was decorated with an oil of Saint Ambrose by the Milanese artist Bernardino Lovino as well as a cycle of frescoes recounting his life, while the latter featured an oil of the “Angelo Custode” by Jacopo Taurini. The wall opposite the main altar boasted a fresco cycle of the life of the Virgin, and one of the more bizarre relics housed below it was the arm of a young girl bound in strands of coral that had been cannibalized by a local woman who was miraculously caught in the act.2 An archival document dating from around 1586 makes no mention of the altar of the “Angelo Custode,” and instead indicates that the altars included the Maria Assumpta

 

Appendix A: Documents

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Appendix A

Documents

Document 1.1

ASDM, Archivio San Celso Amministrazione, Sedute,

Registri 1583–1591, 46v (new 94).

8 Settembre 1585

Havendo il Reverendo sacrista di questa chiesa proposto il bisogno ch s’ha de libri per servigio del choro di detta chiesa, et exhibita nota de libri che li Reverendi Canonici di S. Nazaro di questa città hanno di vendere con liberi prezzi del tenere che segue

Nota della stima fatta delli cinque libri di carta connotta di canto di S. Nazaro di Milano

un’ salterio carte numero 275 la seraitura et ligatura in tutto

Libro del Advento carte numero 260.

Libro dominicale carte numero 258.

Libro della quadregessima carte numero 263.

Hanno ordinato che li sodetti signori Gian’ Battista Archinto, et Fossani s’informano del bisogno de questa chiesa qualità, et vero prezzo d’essi libri, è, poi, referiscanno.

Baldesar Adda Priore

September 8, 1585

The Reverend sacristan of this church, having related the need of books for use by the choir of this church, and been shown a list of books, which are as follows, that the Reverend Canons of San Nazaro of this city have for sale at liberal prices.

 

Appendix B: Pay Records for the Singers of the Ave Maria in Duomo

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166

Appendix B

R. Prete Vittoriano Sodarini

D. Alvisio Rabastello

D. Pietro Maria Giussani

Alli duoi huomini che espongono li Cilostri

L35

L25

L25

L72

L355

June 1612 for first six months of 1612.

D. Hippolito Canova maestro di cappella

All’istesso Hippolito canova per tanto ha detto il s. Aurelio facino esserci speso in libri de Canti

R. Prete Agostino Costa

R. Prete Alessio Briosco

D. Giovanni Battista Bonomo

D. Giovanni Battista Crespi

R. Prete Vittoriano Sodarini

D. Alvisio Robastello

D. Giovanni Maria Giussani

Alli duo huomini che espongono li cilostri

L50

L3

L30

L48

L35

L35

L35

L25

L25

L72

L358

2 January 1613 for six months.

D. Hippolito Canova

R. Prete Alessio Briosco

R. Prete Cesare Cappi

Aurelio Mazani

D. Giovanni Battista Crespi

D. Antonio Pizinardi

D. Alvisio Rabastelli m. Battista Angosciola et Paolino Molatore

Alli doi huomini che espongono li cilostri

L50

L48

L35

L35

L35

L35

L25

L25

L72

L360

8 July 1613 for six months.

D. Hippolito Canova

R. Prete Alessio Briosco

R. Prete Cesare Cappi Pavese per tre mesi

D. Giovanni Battista Bononio

 

Appendix C: Contents of Selected Collections

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Contents of Selected Collections 173

Title

Voicing

(with continuo)

Liturgical Usage or

Text Source

Exaudi Domine

C&T

Psalm 26: 7, 9; Pro

Defunctis (Lauds Antiphon)

Surge propera, ded. D.

Paola Ortensia Serbellona in S. Vincenzo

2C in Ecco or T

Song of Songs 2: 10, 14;

Visitation (Antiphon or

Responsory Verse, Matins)

O sacrum convivium, ded. D. Paola Ortensia

Serbellona in S. Vincenzo

2C in Ecco or T

Corpus Christi (Antiphon,

2nd Vespers)

Cantate Domino, ded. D.

Matteo Ferrari, basso in S.

Maria presso S. Celso

2B

Psalm 97: 1–2; Eastertide

Iustus ut palma, ded. Sigr.

Pietro Paolo Maderno

2B

Psalm 91: 13–14

O Domine

C&B

Adoration of the Cross?

O vos omnes

C&B

Lamentations of Jeremiah

1: 12; Holy Saturday

(Matins Responsory)

Beati qui habitat in domo

C&B

Psalm 83:5; Dedication of the Church (Matins Versus or Antiphon)

Ad te desiderat

C&B

Marian votive

Gio. Andrea Cima Voce mea

C&B

Comm. Martyrs (Matins

Antiphon)

Gio. Andrea Cima

Quam pluchrae sunt

C&B

Song of Songs 4: 10–11

Cor mundum, ded. S.

Battista Corrado, sop. in Duomo

C&B

Psalm 50: 12–13; Dom.

 

Appendix D: Musical Examples

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278

Appendix D

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