At Siena in the Italian region of Tuscany the square (piazza) known as Prato di Sant’Agostino is dominated by the gothic Church of Sant’Agostino.
The Church of Sant'Agostino Church was built over a 200-year period from the year 1258 onwards.
- This church endured much, including a number of serious fires over the centuries.
Now it is no longer even a church, but deconsecrated and serving the city as a gallery for art exhibitions.
- Possibly this was not a cruel fate for the building, because of the great collection of art it already possessed when it had for centuries been a church in Augustinian possession.
This however does not inhibit appreciation of the restoration work of the architect, Luigi Vanvitelli, after the fire that devastated the building in 1755.
Siena is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in Italy and in the world
- Siena often crossed swords – literally! - with its much larger neighbour, Florence in the epic and cruel battles that forged the history of medieval Tuscany, Italy.
One of the most famous battles was at Montaperti on 4th September 1260, when the Sienese routed the Florentines.
Siena reached its peak of splendour in the twelfth century. During that period most of the civic monuments were built and the construction of the monumental new duomo (cathedral) was attempted (and never completed). In 1348, however, Siena was laid low by the Black Death, which exterminated three-fifths of the population.
Ten years earlier, Siena hosted an Augustinian General Chapter. The Chapter enforced the regulations concerning the administration of money as provided in the Augustinian Constitutions against possible abuses. Under penalty of removal from office, no Prior was allowed to receive, handle, or spend money belonging. to the monastery, nor to interfere in any way with the office of the Procurator beyond the regulations of the Constitutions.
In addition, the Prior acting contrary to this decree was to be incapable, for three years, of any office to which the care of souls was annexed. At this Chapter also extensive regulations were made for reforming studies in general. Finally, special regulations for the studium generale (Augustinian study house) at Paris were added, in particular for the administration of money belonging to the community and to the fund for students and staff members.
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Photos (at right):
Picture 1: Siena drawn in 1490 AD.
Picture 2: Former Church of Sant’Agostino, Siena.
Picture 3: Interior of the former Church of Sant’Agostino, Siena.