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What Exactly is this Magnificent Sacred Art Reborn in the Chapel of Mercy?

An iconic work representing the Principality’s historic and religious heritage, the Gonfalon des Pénitents Blancs (Procession Banner of the White Penitents) was recently permanently installed in the Chapel of Mercy. The state of preservation of this processional banner was such that a complete restoration was required, and was begun in 2019.

The work is over two metres high, painted in oil on both sides and made from crimson damask with gold edging. One side depicts a Pietà featuring St Nicolas and St Devota, while the other shows the birth of the Virgin surrounded by St Nicolas and St Devota.

The first written mention of the « gonfalon » dates back to 21 November 1640. It was presented at a religious event, having been created in Genoa by an unknown artist at the request of Ms Luisa Trivultia Cagliente, wife of Commander Cagliente, who led the Spanish garrison in Mnaco until 1641.

The dual aspect of the work required a special mobile installation to be developed, enabling visitors to admire both sides of this remarkable painting.

The banner was restored as part of the restoration policy pursued by the Monaco Department of Cultural Affairs through the mission of the Heritage Institute.

The work was carried out by La Réserve, which put together a team especially for this job. The team comprised Thierry Martel, who restored the canvas, Florence Feuardent’s restoration studio, which worked on the paint layer, and Gilles Tournillon’s studio, which developed the frame.

Masterpiece in a Gilded Frame

Behold! After years cloaked in the shroud of restoration, a divine resurrection. The venerable procession banner of the White Penitents, adorned with the tender Pietà of Saint Nicholas and Saint Devote, and the miraculous birth of the Virgin, emerges from the shadows of obscurity.

Centuries weighed heavily upon the fragile shoulders of the White Penitents’ gonfalon until this triumphant three-year restoration breathed new life into its weary fabric. Once consigned to the dim recesses of archival oblivion, this sacred relic, a testament to Monaco’s religious legacy, bursts forth into the radiant embrace of the spotlight.

Adorned with figures from the New Testament, biblical parables, and local lore, its restoration, painstakingly executed with exquisite detail, enchants the soul with the sublime beauty of the Madonna and the revered saints of the Principality.

Today, ensconced within a gilded frame and bathed in the soft glow of reverence, this masterpiece finds its eternal home in the quaint baroque confines of Mercy chapel.

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