Recent excavations have revealed the existence of an integrated complex of vaulted rooms, stairs, and passages under the so-called ombrellone of the western portico of Sant'Andrea in Mantua. The authors suggest that this complex and its adjacent rooms may have been intended to serve for the exposition of the relics of the Most Precious Blood of Christ, preserved in Sant'Andrea, possibly in times of danger and plague, and for the guardian brotherhood of the relics, the Venerable Company of the Most Precious Blood, established in Sant'Andrea by Pius II in 1462. The adjacent rooms over the first side chapels of the nave may have served for "ritual habitation" by members of the ruling Gonzaga family, particularly for the patron, the marchese Ludovico Gonzaga.
Recent Excavations under the "Ombrellone" of Sant'Andrea in Mantua: Preliminary Report
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Howard Saalman, Livio Volpi Ghirardini, Anthony Law; Recent Excavations under the "Ombrellone" of Sant'Andrea in Mantua: Preliminary Report. Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 1 December 1992; 51 (4): 357–376. doi: https://doi.org/10.2307/990735
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