Lots of old pictures of pre-VII religious
(03-04-2010, 10:52 PM)Metatron Wrote: The italian caption at the bottom actually reads "carrying an ailing man." So he's not dead.

Ok, that makes more sense.  And I suppose it makes it somewhat less creepy.
Here's the whle article on that fraternity, translated:

"The Venerable Confraternity of the Mercy in Florence is a fraternity that takes care of transporting the sick founded in Florence in the thirteenth century by Saint Peter Martyr. It is today the oldest confraternity to assist the sick and, in general, the oldest private institution in the world of volunteering is still active since its foundation, dated in 1244 according to the records stored in its archives. Its lay members, these brothers are still going to provide part [1] of transport sick in the city, and until April 2006 were still wearing the traditional black robe (from the XVII century), now reduced for use in ceremonies representation because of regulations inspired to road safety. The example of the Florentine confraternity there are numerous similar institutions throughout Italy and abroad.

The Venerable Confraternity of the Misericordia of Florence joined the Society of Mercy [2], a confederation founded by the Mercy of Florence, and Rifredi Bivigliano.

Most of the other mercies, whilst retaining their independence, joining the National Confederation of Mercy of Italy, whose headquarters is located in Florence and also brings together some 700 confraternities.
Origins [edit]

The Brotherhood, known to the Florentines simply as the Misericordia, has been dedicated since the beginning of his story to transport the sick to hospitals in the city, to collect alms for poor girls marry at the burial of the needy, and other works charity. The foundation is uncertain, according to legend was the work of Piero di Luca Borsi porter, while a record Archconfraternity dated 1361 and reported that the Brotherhood was "Messer began the blessed St. Peter Martyr of the Order of Preachers." It was, in particular, a subsidiary of Societas Fidei formed in 1244 under the name of the Society of Santa Maria della Misericordia

The Brotherhood quickly distinguished himself mainly by the constant activities in the field of transport of the sick, especially during the increasingly frequent epidemics. In a short time grew in number and popularity, and wealth inevitably, when they began to flood donations and bequests.

In the fourteenth century, the Brotherhood was recognized by the city as a truly public institution in a decree of March 31, 1329 with which he gave the Brothers the right to elect their leaders (captains).
The fifteenth [edit]

In those years, the now thriving fraternity was endowed of a new, prestigious home in what is now called the Loggia del Bigallo in Piazza del Duomo. Indeed, shortly thereafter, in 1425, the least prosperous (in fact, they said, close to bankruptcy) Brotherhood of Bigallo got the merger of the two fraternities, despite the protests of the so-called Magistrate of Mercy, who feared the lukewarm enthusiasm Brothers and loss of control over the assets of the confraternity.

A half century later, in 1475, a substantial proportion of the members of Mercy, leaving Bigallo all goods and rents, obtained the lifting of the Mercy and restore with old intentions, drafting new statutes (1490) and by shifting ' accommodation in another temporary headquarters.
The modern era [edit]
Coat of Arms of Mercy, in the ceiling of the church of the Brotherhood

The building of the Uffizi, which met in the same place all public offices of the Grand Ducal Florence, made many free spaces in the city, so in 1576 he obtained the mercy of the officers of the former local wards, facing the Campanile di Giotto. This seat is occupied today, and with time the Brotherhood has been able to acquire the entire building. The building was restored by Alfonso Paris, and had then also a chapel designed in 1781 by Stefano Beloved.

The Arciconfraternita now enjoyed high esteem, so that not only was spared from the deletion that decimated the religious orders between the second half of the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, but the Lorraine government even ordered the establishment of Mercy premises throughout Tuscany, a country that had to take over all the other guilds (in some cities already existed for centuries, as from 1250 in Siena, Volterra and Pisa from 1290 by 1330). These institutions are still present in the region. In Florence, the Mercy was considered to belong to the highly honorable and meritorious, and many families report at least a brother to every generation [3].

In the second half of the twentieth century, the NHS has begun to partially finance the services of the Brotherhood, which has caused unease in many brothers who have left the service, it feels more like a charity free of charge.
The twentieth century and the modern era [edit]
The entrance to the Piazza Duomo, decorated for the feast of the patron

In all the difficult moments of the history of the town's Mercy has always been distinguished for the zeal with which the brothers have tried to compensate with their forces for the increased needs of the service is still alive the memory of the Second World War, when all ambulances lost or kidnapped, the brothers returned to the cart pulled by hand and the litter.

Over time, Mercy has taken new approaches to carry out services of charity, like the so-called mutatur service to the sick, which is a form of limited home care to the sick dependents. More recently invested heavily in the field of civil protection and retirement homes.

Centuries of the donations have made a large fortune, mainly real estate. There is also a specialist clinics, where doctors provide voluntary work, and a cemetery.

To reduce the problems caused by the decrease of the brothers, in part also caused by the proliferation of similar institutions and less demanding forms of voluntary work have been tried several ways, including opening doors to women, then the massive use of conscientious objectors.

As mentioned, the Misericordia of Florence continues today to provide relief to the sick and the injured, always in step with the times: it was the first such institution to provide ambulances with doctor on board, defibrillator, electrocardiogram, and so on.
The clothing [edit]

In some paintings visible, with some difficulty, on the outer walls of the Loggia del Bigallo you can see the brothers with what must be their uniform in the fourteenth century: a tunic reaching to the feet of crimson and a gold medallion around his neck. In 1630, during the plague (the same as described in "The Betrothed) was necessary to switch to using black robes on which notassero less stains collected help the patients with suppurating sores, the tunic was equipped with the so-called comic that is a pointed cap of the same material with two holes for eyes, which until the twentieth century, the brothers pulled over his head to perform the service of charity anonymously. Life, as a belt, hooked a rope with a large black rosary. This uniform is still worn during certain celebrations.

At headquarters in Piazza del Duomo in Florence are preserved, in addition to priceless archives, some important works of art and a collection of historical materials and furnishings of the brotherhood of considerable interest, organized in a small museum open to every Monday.

Among the most important works of sculpture that the nucleus was in the studio of Benedetto da Majano his death and that he assigned it to the brotherhood in his will and is the small crucifix kept for a long time in the hall of heads of the Guard, a Madonna Child unfinished and finished with less happy hands by his disciple (now on display in the Society, the room where the brothers are awaiting the call to services) and the beautiful San Sebastian, in the chapels next to the altar.

The altar of the oratory is a Della Robbia pottery depicting the Virgin Enthroned with Saints that was pulled up a pew, of far higher quality, perhaps by the hand of Andrea della Robbia. Other works are visible in the rooms downstairs, as some works in terracotta and marble and a series of paintings that formed the seventeenth-century decoration of the chapel.

On the front Archconfraternity you notice the strange shrine housed in the recess of a window frame in the stone, which houses an oil painting on canvas depicting the Charity operates symbolic Henry Armstrong, who was donated by him in 1970. The painting shows a brother while carrying on his shoulders with the "cradle" (wicker basket with seat) on a patient whose face is an obvious sign of suffering.
The celebrations for the patron saint [edit]

St. Peter Martyr chose it as the patron of the brotherhood San Tobia, the character of the Old Testament, which helps free two strangers in the '500, however, to allow the now powerful and influential association of clerics enjoy certain privileges, it was symbolically associated with the Brotherhood Roman San Sebastian, named after the saint invoked as a protection against the plague, a scourge still alive at the time. Since then, San Sebastian became the principal patron of Mercy who still celebrate the feast with great solemnity (the decoration of the facade is shown in the illustration) and traditional free distribution of thousands of Panellinio blessed. Many are brought by the brothers at home for the needy and the sick, or in hospitals and nursing homes.

By decree of 1894, the Confraternity of Mercy decided to build a new cemetery (after that of the Pinto) in the area of blowing. The work began in 1896 on design and project architect Michelangelo Maiorfi. He realized in the eastern wing neo-Gothic style, the chapel, burial ground and the central west wing. Intervened then the engineer Louis Buonamici, architects Paciarelli John, who gave as a unified whole cemetery, Giuseppe Castellucci, who extended the north wing, and engineers Mario Raddi and First Saccardi. There were buried among the famous men such as sculptors and Romano Romanelli Raffaello Romanelli, the writer Enrico Novelli said Yambo, the critic Jarro, General Antonio Baldissera."

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