Re: Re: Brother Michael Augustine O’Riordan

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A drawing outlining a reconstruction of Andrea Palladio’s High Altar for the Ospedale di Santa Maria dei Derelitti ai Santi Giovanni e Paolo (The Ospedaletto) in Venice, built 1574-1580. In 1575 Palladio was commissioned by Giovanni Battista di Pietro Contarini (1538-1599) to prepare plans for the construction of the High Altar in the new chapel of this orphanage. The altar was dismanteled, however, in subsequent reconstructions of the chapel most notably by Baldasare Longhena in the third quarter of the seventeenth century.

The original central altar piece depicted the Coronation of Our Lady and was painted Damiano Mazza, a pupil of Titian’s. The picture still remains in situ but has been cut down to fit the subsequent dismanteling of the altar. It was also flanked by two other pictures: St. John receiving Our Lady into his own house on the epistle side and a Holy Family which are still in the chapel. The HIgh Altar is flanked by two doors leading to a sacristy behind the altar.

This liturgical arrangement was regarded as innovative in 1575 and was closely linked to the reforms of the Council of Trent when had concluded in 1562 and with the Somaschi, founded by St. Jerome Emiliano, for the care and education of the poor through hospitals and orphenages.

Praxiteles thinks that we can posit the High Altar designed by Andrea Palladio as the fundamental prototype for the altars to be found in Brother O’Riordan’s early 19th. century churches.

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