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A Relic, Some Pictures and the Mothers of Florence in the Late Fourteenth Century

Brendan Cassidy
Gesta
Vol. 30, No. 2 (1991), pp. 91-99
DOI: 10.2307/767052
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/767052
Page Count: 9
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Abstract

The iconography of the Madonna del Parto was established in Tuscany in the fourteenth century. An intriguing detail of some of these Madonnas is the knotted belt they wear. This paper argues that these painted belts allude to the relic of the Virgin's Sacra Cintola that was venerated in Prato, and that Florentine interest in the relic developed when the Florentines took control of the town in 1350-1351. A poem of 1340 relates the power of the relic to provide comfort to expectant mothers. I suggest that the several Florentine images of the Madonna del Parto wearing a simulacrum of the Cintola, all of which date from after 1350, sustained pregnant women and their families through the pains and uncertainties of childbirth.

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