The Battle of Montaperti had and still has many traces throughout the city of Siena.
To give thanks for the victory against the Florentine militia, vows were made, frescoes and paintings were commissioned, and buildings were constructed all over Siena. The Church of San Giorgio in Via di Pantaneto is one of these. The church was built on an earlier structure dating back to 1081 and it was dedicated to St George to give thanks for the Sienese victory achieved on 4 September 1260 at Montaperti. Its bell tower still exists even though it has been remodelled and tradition has it that 38 windows were opened in memory of the number of companies that took part in the battle.
In 1586 The Church of San Giorgio housed the Congregation of the Holy Nailsfounded by the Venerable Sienese Matteo Guerra. The Congregation was formed by laymen and secular priests and modelled after the spirit of the Oratory of San Filippo Neri, which was based on the penitential discipline of its members, preaching and theological education of the clergy.
The Congregation of the Holy Nails survived in San Giorgio until 1666, when the Sienese pope Alexander VII suppressed it, granting the church and its belongings to the Archiepiscopal Seminary of Siena, which remained here for about two centuries before being transferred to the ancient convent of San Francesco. The presence of the seminary lead numerous artistic commissions of the prelates of the Casa Chigi-Zondadari, descendants of Alexander VII.
In the early 18th century, Cardinal Anton Felice Zondadari, brother of the then Archbishop of Siena Alessandro, decided to have the entire building restored at his own expense. The first works date back to 1723. On 17 January 1729, the old high altar was demolished, and finally, on 9 September 1731, the new church was consecrated. The facade was already completely transformed in a Neo-Classical style by Pietro Cremoni of Arosio, a Ticino architect who was a guest of Giuseppe Mazzuoli in Siena. Not yet satisfied, Cardinal Zondadari wanted to make San Giorgio even more beautiful and decided to embellish both the interior and the facade.
On 27 July 1735, work began on the new facade of the Church of San Giorgio. The facade is made of travertine from the Serre di Rapolano and was constructed under the direction of the Sienese master builder Antonio Fondi. By May 1738, the work was completed, although the church wasn’t opened until 19 November 1741 as the ornaments, stucco work and paintings took longer than expected.
In the meantime, Anton Felice Zondadari died, but left the money needed to finance the entire work in his will. At the first service celebrated in the new building, officiated by the Dean of the Cathedral Chapter, Archbishop Alessandro Zondadari was present to represent the family that had done so much for this religious building.
Two funerary monuments dedicated to Cardinal Anton Felice Zondadari and his brother Alessandro, Bishop of Siena, still stand on either side of the altar, signed in 1748 by the Antwerp artist F. Janssens.
Where: via Pantaneto 111
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