The entrance to the 17th century church of Santa Maria della Scala is surmounted by a very fine statue of the Virgin and Child (1633), the work of the sculptor Francesco di Cusart.
Look closely and you will see that the Madonna is seated atop a set of three steps, while the Christ Child stands on the second step. This is a visual reference to the origin of the church.
Santa Maria della Scala was built to house an image of the Madonna, which was originally located on the landing of an external staircase (scala) that was attached to a nearby house. In 1592 a deformed child, whose mother often prayed before the image, was miraculously cured. The church was built in response to the veneration the image subsequently generated.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private walking tours of Rome.
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