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The Confraternity of Misericordia of Sansepolcro, Confraternity of Our Lady of Mercy, is the oldest currently existing association in the city and since 1338 it has been gathering volunteers who dedicate their time free of charge to the service of the needy, inspired by the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
In addition to the many merits that the confreres of the past centuries have been able to acquire in the service of charity, we must add that of having given the world one of the greatest masterpieces of Renaissance painting: the Madonna della Misericordia painted by Piero della Francesca. On 11 February 1445 the brothers Pietro di Luca (prior), Pappo di Simone Dotti, Gaspare di Nicola Martini, Ambrogio Massi, Gioacchino Pichi, Giuliano Dotti, Giuliano di Matteo Ciano and Michelangelo Massi commissioned a polyptych depicting the Virgin from Piero della Francesca of Mercy among saints. The brothers bound the painter to the use of quality colors and gold and to the total autograph of the plates. In 1478 the Confraternity commissioned a fresco from Piero della Francesca, depicting the Holy Virgin, to be painted on a wall between the church and the hospital, but today there is no trace of this work.
On March 28, 1785, the Grand Duke of Tuscany Pietro Leopoldo suppressed all the Confraternities, with the exception of the Misericordia of Florence, and therefore also the Confraternity of Santa Maria della Misericordia of Borgo Sansepolcro, however a small group of brothers was maintained who took on the burden of the maintenance of the Church of San Rocco, where the Compagnia del SS. Crucifix founded in 1492, this group gave continuity to the Misericordia and 31 years later, with a decree of 25 November 1816 the bishop of Sansepolcro Roberto Costaguti, officially restored the Confraternity of Misericordia, which absorbed the Company of the Crucifix and therefore resumed its seat in the Church of S. Rocco.
Activities of Misericordia along the centuries
The Misericordia di Sansepolcro, one of whose first documented activities was to comfort and accompany those sentenced to death to the gallows, which in Sansepolcro was located in “Le Forche”, has intervened over the centuries alongside the population on the occasion of the numerous epidemics of plague, and established the first hospitals for assistance to the sick which was transformed into the Spedali Riuniti and finally into the area hospital. In 1817 a serious typhus epidemic broke out in the city, and the brothers made themselves useful in transporting the sick, contagious, to the hospital. To avoid the spread of the disease, the brothers also disinfected the homes of the sick in 1855 Sansepolcro was threatened by the epidemic of cholera and again the brothers of the Misericordia intervened. In 2020-2022 the Brothers of Mercy intervened with assistance services infected in the Covid pandemic and in 2022 in assistance to the Ukrainian population.
Traditional dress of Confraternity of Misericordia is the characteristic black cape with buffa (i.e. the hood to hide the face) that the confreres wore to make themselves anonymous and not to be thanked, regardless of the social classes they belong to during the charitable gesture of the service, in order to highlight gratuity, without chasing fame and realizing the motto “May God give credit!”.
Misericordia of Sansepolcro today
Today the Misericordia has three thousand six hundred members, of which about one hundred and ten brothers and sisters active in the services of charity and help to others operated by the Misericordia, the services provided include Emergency Urgency with ambuaze, Health transport services, Social Services, Food aid service to needy people (“Il Pane Spezzato” Project), civil protection interventions on the occasion of Natural Disasters, probationary reintegration into Social Services, Civil Service, and a growing number of new activities that show how the field of charity is vast of opportunities and that each of us is needed to witness God’s love to the world.
If you want to offer your time as a volunteer or contribute to the work and social activities of the Confraternity of Mercy leave an offer or click on
May God give credit!