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Chiesa del Voto (Modena)

Modena's Plague Church

Chiesa del Voto

Though it gets only a passing mention in most histories, the great plague, or 'Plague of Milan' in 1630-1 was one of the most dramatic events of that troubled century, and it contributed greatly to Italy's economic and political decline. An outbreak of bubonic plague, it seems to have been spread by the movements of armies and dismissed soldiers. Modena, like all the cities of Emilia, was badly hit, and lost perhaps as much as half its population.

A number of Italian cities built votive churches in thanksgiving for the end of the plague, most notably Santa Maria della Salute in Venice. The Chiesa del Voto is Modena's, with an stately, rather Venetian design by local architect Cristoforo Galaverna. The interior is restrained by Modenese standards, the only art of note being a quietly moving altarpiece by Lodovico Lana, an allegory depicting the plague.

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Via Emilia

Hours open daily 10–12 and 4–6 (when it reopens after the current works)

Text © Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls

Images by: Luca Sartoni