The Spanish Chapel in Santa Maria Novella

PPhotography by Carlos Dorce

The Triumph of St. Thomas Aquinas
Photography by Carlos Dorce

The Spanish Chapel is one of the most wonderful chapels which can be enjoyed in Santa maria Novella. My students didn’t want to visit it but the teacher could convince most of them to enter the church and they weren’t disappointed.

The fresco entitled The Triumph of St. Thomas Aquinas was painted by Andrea di Bonaiuto (1365-1367) and it was dedicated to…

the great Dominican Doctor of the Church who, illuminated by the spirit of Wisdom, as described in the book lying open in his hands, and supported by the Theological and Cardinal Virtues and the study of the biblical writers of both the Old and New Testaments, defeats heresy, personified by Nestor, Arius and Averroes, and dominates the sciences. These are represented by fourteen allegorical female figures, alluding in part to the Sacred Sciences (left) and in part to the Liberal Arts (right). Each of these is accompanied by a historical personage, famous for having distinguished himself in that articular discipline.

The Theological and Cardinal Virtues are the Charity (over St. Thomas), the Faith and the Hope (at her respectively left and right sides), the Prudence (below the Faith), the Temperance (at the left side of the Prudence), The Justice (below the Hope) and the Fortitude (at her right). On the left of St. Thomas, there are (from left to right) the Biblical authors Job, David, St. Paul, St. Mark and St. Matthew, and on his right (from left to right), St. John the Evangelist, St. Luke, Moses, Isaiah and Solomon. Below St. Thomas, we find Nestor, Arius and Averroes:

AverroesPhotography by Carlos Dorce

Photography by Carlos Dorce

The fourteen allegorical women and the corresponding eminent men are (from left to right): the Civil Law with Justinian, the Canonical Law with Clement V, the Philosophy with Aristotle, the Holy Scriptures with St. Jerome, the Theology with St. John of Damascus, the Contemplation with St. Dionysius the Areopagite, the Preaching with St. Augustine, the Arithmetic with Pythagoras, the Geometry with Euclid, the Astronomy with Ptolemy, the Music with Tubalcain, the Dialectics with Pietro Ispano (?), the Rhetoric with Cicero and the Grammar with Priscian (?):

Pythagoras, Euclid and PtolemyPhotography by Carlos Dorce

Pythagoras, Euclid and Ptolemy
Photography by Carlos Dorce

Finally, here you are my privileged students who enjoyed the wonderful Spanish Chapel:

Photography by Carlos Dorce

Photography by Carlos Dorce

Location: Santa Maria Novella (map)

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