San Martino del Vescovo

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thumb San Martino del Vescovo is a parish church in central Florence, Italy. This church became the seat of the Compagnia dei Buonomini, begun by St Anthony in 1442 and aided by the munificence of Cosimo de' Medici the Elder. The confraternity was formed to benefit the poveri vergognosi ("the shamed poor").

Nine of the interior frescoes are attributed to the workshop of Domenico Ghirlandaio although their dating remains a contentious issue. The tenth fresco, The Dream of Saint Martin has recently been attributed to Lorenzo di Credi. Eight of the cycle of ten murals are based on the Seven Works of Corporal Mercy and show the Buonomini performing activities based on these tasks. The brothers are depicted giving food and drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, giving shelter to pilgrims, releasing a debtor from gaol, burying the dead, witnessing an espousal and making an initial visit to a family in need. The two frescoes which flank the altar show scenes from the life of Saint Martin of Tours. The depiction to the left of the altar shows Martin dividing his cloak for the beggar and the one to the right, depicts The Dream of Saint Martin. Inside is an altarpiece of a Madonna with Infant Jesus and St. John by Niccolò Soggi and a bust of Saint Antoninus which is attributed to Verrocchio.

The Buonomini are to this day active in Florence although their charitable activities remain secret. Each Friday afternoon the twelve good men meet in the Sala Riunioni to discuss the confraternity's business. The frescoes and the interior of the oratory underwent a sympathetic restoration program in April 2011.


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  • Hughes-Johnson, Samantha. 'Early Medici Patronage and the Confraternity of the Buonomini di San Martino' Confraternitas, vol. 22, pp.3-25, 2012, Toronto.
  • Hughes-Johnson, Samantha. 'Divergent Hands: Two Scenes from the Life of Saint Martin of Tours in the Oratorio dei Buonomini di San Martino' Arte Cristiana, 2013.
  • Hughes-Johnson, Samantha. 'Fashioning Family Honour in Renaissance Florence: The Language of Women's Clothing and Gesture in the Frescoes of the Confraternity of the Buonomini di San Martino in Florence' Confraternitas, vol. 23, pp.3-31, 2013, Toronto.