Sena vetvs civitas virginis. Siena : Bernardino Serretti, [ca. 1600?]. Christophe Daniel Ebeling Collection, no. 3607. Gift of Israel Thorndike, 1818.
Francesco Vanni, the Sienese painter, portrays his city as one whose physical security is guaranteed by its formidable walls and whose spiritual integrity is overseen by a pantheon of civic saints and beati. The Virgin Mary presides over a veritable “who’s who” of Siena’s beatified and canonized patrons. Saints Catherine (revealing the stigmata), Bernardino (in his Franciscan robes), and Galgano (who exchanged his sword for a cross) stand closest to Mary, flanked by founders of religious orders, martyrs (shown here holding palm fronds), and those who led lives of conspicuous virtue. The spectrum of mendicant and monastic orders represented among Siena’s spiritual guardians includes the Dominicans, Franciscans, Carmelites, Carthusians, and Cistercians.