Santa Maria della Consolazione is below the town, near the edge of the 13th-century walls. It’s a large 16th-century church with four apses and a beautiful central cupola and is one of central Italy’s best Renaissance churches.
It is located between Todi and the River Tiber valley. The church was built between 1508 and 1607, on the spot where a few years before some miraculous recoveries happened close to an ancient aedicule (small shrine) with pictures representing the Virgin holding the Infant Jesus and St Catherine of Alexandria.
According to the legend, a modest local worker (blind in one eye) called Iole di Cecco, while working to free the area around Santa Maria and St Giorgio from brambles, cleared (using his own napkin) the Virgin Mary’s portrait. Later on he dried up his face and eyes with the same napkin, and miraculously recovered his sight.
The ‘temple of consolation’ is one of the highest Renaissance art example in Umbria. The Greek cross plant, characterized by five cupolas (one central and one each apsis) is thought to have been designed by the school of Donato Bramante. Howeversome art critics think it was made by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, who was entrusted with the site management. The interiors are particularly light and airy and house the statues of Pope Martino of Todi, the twelve Apostles while the northern apse nearby the Baroque altar, the picture Virgin holding the Infant Jesus, still believed as a miracle worker.
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