Pinacoteca, Room XI: Annunciation, Rest during the Flight into Egypt and The Blessed Michelina by Barocci
Barocci, Annunciation, cat. 40376.
Federico Fiori, called the
(Urbino 1528/35 - 1612)
Annunciation, 1582-84, oil on wood transferred onto canvas, cm. 248 x 170.
The work was painted by Barocci in the years 1582-1584 for the chapel of Francesco Maria II della Rovere, duke of Urbino, in the Basilica of Loreto. Transferred to Paris in 1797, it returned to Italy in 1816 and since 1820 has been part of the Vatican Art Gallery Collection. The religious event dominates the composition, in the background of which an opening allows us to see a view of the Palazzo Ducale of Urbino: the sacred subject, rendered with immediacy and with great simplicity, is steeped light and is pervaded by a sweet and idyllic atmosphere.
Barocci, Rest during the Flight into Egypt, cat. 40377.
Federico Barocci (1535-1612).
Rest on the Flight into Egypt. Before 1573. Oil on canvas, 133 x 110 cm.
Barocci, The Blessed Michelina, cat. 40378. Blessed Michelina of Pesaro.
Michelina wanted to be at the center of her social network until she discovered a deeper longing that changed her life in radical ways.
She lived in Pesaro, a town on the eastern coast of Italy, in the 1300s. Her parents were wealthy and well-known, and she grew up with every advantage and luxury. She was married at a young age, according to the custom of the time, and had a happy marriage. The couple had one boy.
Michelina's husband died when she was just 20 years old. Though she was saddened, she wanted to remarry, and so entered the social life of the region, attending parties and other gatherings. She went about the business of amusing herself.
Living in Pesaro at the time was a wandering holy woman named Syriaca, who followed the way of St. Francis and lived on the generosity of others. Michelina often would take in Syriaca and give her food and a bed for the night. Gradually, the witness of Syriaca's life began to speak to Michelina and awaken in her a longing for some deeper happiness than she was finding in her social life.
At about that time, Michelina's son got very ill and died. She was devastated by the loss, but received a vision of him in heaven, and this convinced her to give her life to God so that she might join him.
She gave away all of her wealth, and also took on the way of life of St. Francis and Syriaca-begging for her food and shelter and caring for those who were also living in poverty. She was accustomed to such luxury and this was often a difficult thing for her to do, but she applied great discipline and resolve to carry it out.
Her family thought she had gone crazy, and locked her up. Though her way of life confused them, she was at the same time full of peace and gentleness and patience, so they eventually released her.
She went about caring for the sick and the poor. Stories are told of how she cured lepers by kissing their wounds. Towards the end of her life, she made a pilgrimage to Rome, where she received a mystical vision of Jesus suffering on the cross.
She died on this date in 1356, and was instantly recognized as a holy woman by the town of Pesaro. The citizens there kept a lamp burning at her tomb, and converted her home into a church. Her relics rest in the reliquary chapel in the Basilica, and this image of her by Federico Barocci stands in the Vatican museums.