Basilica di Santa Maria Novella

Scenes from the fourteenth century chapter room of the Dominican Priory of Santa Maria Novella in Florence.
History: In 1219, twelve Dominicans, lead by Giovanni da Salerno, were sent to Florence from Bologna on San Domenico’s initiative to engage in intense preaching activity aimed at working against the “catare” doctrines that were common in the city. The friars, after taking refuge in the San Gallo hospital, moved to the San Gallo oratory in Pian di Ripoli and later, to the hospital of the San Pancrazio church.

In 1221, they finally obtained the small church of Santa Maria Novella, which had been consecrated in 1049, and they constructed above a preexisting chapel from the 9th century.

The iconographic plan of the complex pictorial decoration in the Chapter Room may be explained by identifying the intent of the whole, which is the representation of the role of the Dominican order in the church and in society, for the salvation of man, through the perfect imitation of Christ and in virtue of the science which derives from him and the preaching of the word of God in defense of the true Faith, to martyrdom. The theme was inspired by the Specchio della vera penitenza (Mirror of True Penitence), a collection of sermons given by the prior of the monastery, Jacopo Passavanti, during Lent of 1354.