The Cauldron of St. Venera and the Comb of St. Blaise. Cult and Iconography in the Confraternities of Albanians and Schiavoni in Fifteenth–Century Ascoli Piceno

Giuseppe Capriotti

Abstract


This article analyzes the relocation of specific cults of saints from the Illyrian coast on the eastern shores of the Adriatic Sea to the Marche region of Italy in line with the migration of communities of Albanians and Schiavoni who gathered into confraternities in their new homeland. It investigates the reasons behind the frequency with which these confraternities were named after St. Venera (for Albanians) and St. Blaise (for Schiavoni), both highly venerated by the Illyrian community: the first as protection against the Turks, the second in the hope of a good harvest. In the Marche, however, these cults experienced some specific changes, often influencing artistic production: St. Venera maintained her anti-Turkish function (in memory of the Albanians’ escape), but her iconography added a nun’s habit and a cauldron; St. Blaise lost his agrarian function but, thanks to his attribute (the carder’s comb), his patronage over the weaving and the dyeing trades practiced by the Schiavoni was strengthened.

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