Monasteries, Medicine and Miracles: The Art of Healing in Renaissance Italian Art with Christina Mifsud

Monasteries, Medicine and Miracles: The Art of Healing in Renaissance Italian Art with Christina Mifsud


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From twelfth-century mosaic programs of Jesus Christ the healer from Nazareth to sixteenth-century maiolica ceramic pharmaceutical jars from Florentine apothecaries, this eclectic lecture spans a variety of visual cultures in Italian art which illustrate human concerns for health and well-being.

In this unprecedented moment of living through a pandemic, what images will come to mind to highlight this human drama? In twelfth-century Sicily, mosaic programs featured a variety of diseases and maladies cured by Jesus who began his ministry as a healer. Following the life of Christ, the cult of saints emerges with their varying forms of protection from illness and disease providing fascinating imaginative iconography in Italian art.

Caring for the sick, aged, and infirm first fell under the umbrella of the services provided by the Church to pilgrims on the way to Rome. As the local population and healthcare needs grew in the fourteenth century, urban monasteries provided such care in a portion of the cloister called an “ospizio” (from the Latin root “ospes” meaning guest). These “hostels” often included the administering of elixirs, ointments, and pills created by the educated and pious monks at the monastery. The Dominicans of Santa Maria Novella provided such support and today seventeenth-century pharmacy still exists selling a variety of healthcare products right inside the cloister’s original premise.

Led by Art Historian Christina Mifsud, an expert in the Florentine Renaissance, this interactive seminar explores representations of healing in Italian art in the unique context of our current global pandemic. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased awareness of the role of the Church in healing and medicine in Renaissance Italy.

This conversation is part of a three-part series on Florence with Christina Mifsud. Each session is designed as a stand-alone seminar as well as part of a three-week series.


Christina Mifsud is an adjunct Professor of Art History at Loyola University of Chicago’s John Felice Rome Center and an authorized tour guide for Italy and Vatican City. Christina holds a B.A. in Art History from Santa Clara University where she studied near her native city of San Francisco and later made her home in Florence, Italy where she completed an M.A. in Italian Renaissance Studies with Syracuse University in 1995. Mifsud is an expert storyteller who weaves anecdotes and events into a relatable account of the past while placing masterpieces of art and architecture in context.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

Based on 3 reviews
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A
A.

Wonderful presentation - I learned a ton! Well done, thank you.

T
T.

Guest did not leave comment

R
R.P.
Italian Art: Super Knowledgeable, Energetic, Informative and Fun!

It has been my good fortune to have toured in-person with Christina in Florence, so I've been hoping that she would join the Context Conversation team. Christina, whose interest in this field began at a very young age, not only has a vast store of knowledge about Italian art and architecture, enhanced by 25 years of her own continued learning, but she is a GREAT COMMUNICATOR with a very ENGAGING STYLE, marked by HIGH ENERGY. Even those with only a passing interest in the art of Italy will soon find themselves completely and happily hooked. I look forward to more presentations from her, especially since visiting Italy in person is problematic, especially with the pandemic. Truth be told, from a strict learning standpoint, the online Conversations are even more educational than touring in person, although I'd choose to be back in Italy in a minute!

Customer Reviews

Based on 3 reviews
100%
(3)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
A
A.

Wonderful presentation - I learned a ton! Well done, thank you.

T
T.

Guest did not leave comment

R
R.P.
Italian Art: Super Knowledgeable, Energetic, Informative and Fun!

It has been my good fortune to have toured in-person with Christina in Florence, so I've been hoping that she would join the Context Conversation team. Christina, whose interest in this field began at a very young age, not only has a vast store of knowledge about Italian art and architecture, enhanced by 25 years of her own continued learning, but she is a GREAT COMMUNICATOR with a very ENGAGING STYLE, marked by HIGH ENERGY. Even those with only a passing interest in the art of Italy will soon find themselves completely and happily hooked. I look forward to more presentations from her, especially since visiting Italy in person is problematic, especially with the pandemic. Truth be told, from a strict learning standpoint, the online Conversations are even more educational than touring in person, although I'd choose to be back in Italy in a minute!