Art Dei – 18 June – The Memorial of Blessed Osanna Andreasi OP (1449-1505) – Her House in Mantua, Italy
This beautiful painting was donated to the Andreasi House in 2002 by private collectors, it is a replica of a painting made in the late 16th century, the original is also part of a private collection, attributed to Luigi Costa the Elder. This versions differs from the original in that it lacks the plate at the bottom and also because in the background we can see a large writing in gold letters and the figure of a swan, the symbol of the Andreasi family. Though the original is more intense, this version also is very interesting, with the large cross and the lily around it, indicating the woman’s condition of virgin. The crown of thorns she is holding evidently creates a direct relationship with the suffering of Jesus Christ. In the course of time, a specific physical type representing the Blessed took shape – she is both severe and beautiful, conveying a sense of quiet prayer but also the charisma of a benefactor.
This painting below, is another portrait of the Blessed, evidently from a series beginning with the work that is part of the private collection attributed to Costa the Elder. The low quality of this canvas does not, however, prevent the viewer from recognising her typical features, here particularly severe and lacking many of the usual symbols. Here, in fact, we see only the cross, long and slender, that the Blessed holds as usual in her right hand, showing it to the worshippers.
Blessed Osanna and the Mysteries of the Rosary
In this devotional composition, the Blessed Osanna is painted standing on the left, while invoking the Virgin Mary who appears above, surrounded by clouds, carrying Baby Jesus in her arms. Next to Osanna we see Saint Dominic, who is in turn admiring the celestial vision. The peculiarity of this painting is, however, the presence of a total of fifteen tondos on the two sides and in the upper part of the painting, depicting the Mysteries of the Rosary. On the right we have the Joyful Mysteries – Annunciation, the Visitation of Mary to saint Elizabeth, the Nativity, the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, the Finding of Jesus in the Temple. On the left the Sorrowful Mysteries – the Agony in the Garden, the Scourging at the Pillar, the Crowning with Thorns, the Carrying of the Cross and the Crucifixion. Above the Glorious Mysteries – the Resurrection, the Ascension, the Descent of the Holy Spirit, the Assumption of Mary and the Coronation of the Virgin. Finally, it must be noted that between the Blessed and Saint Dominic, we can make out the outline of the city of Mantua seen from San Giorgio. This detail allows to identify with certainty the female figure as being the Blessed Osanna.
The home of the Blessed Osanna Andreasi
In between two floors is a small consecrated chapel and a study with painted cupboards. On the main floor are four rooms of which one is entirely fresh with trompe l’oeil architecture depicting columns, balustrades and Latin proverbs recorded on scrolls.
The room of relics of the Blessed Osanna Andreasi (1449-1505) – Set among hydrangeas, roses and officinal plants in the courtyard is a delightful porch with 15th century pink marble columns bearing the Andreasi coat of arms. The interior frescoes date from the 15th, 16th and, above a fireplace, 17th centuries – the decoration on the wooden coffered ceilings is still visible in parts, while the floors and stairs are made of terracotta and the doors of wood. It was purchased by nobleman Niccolò Andreasi in the mid 15th century as his family home. The house underwent minor changes in the early 16th century when Andreasi’s daughter Osanna was beatified.
Property of the Andreasi family for centuries, the house passed in 1780 into the hands of the Magnaguti family by marriage. Conte Alessandro Magnaguti (1887 – 1966) bequeathed it to the Dominican Province Utriusque Lombardiae to perpetuate the memory and cult of Blessed Osanna, who was a Tertiary of the Order and whose home it was.
Since 1935 it has been home to the Dominican Fraternity, who restored it and created a cultural centre for the circulation of Dominican spirituality and for the study of Thomistic philosophy. They established the Association for Dominican Monuments in 1993. The house, which still preserves its vocation for philosophy, culture and mysticism, hosts courses on philosophy and art, comparative religion, conferences, book launches and exhibitions and is the home to countless amazing holy artworks, mostly depicting Dominican Saints but not exclusively.