The Holy Sepulcture

The chapel of the Holy Sepulchre is the devotional cornerstone of San Vivaldo, and consists of two rooms, one with a square plan and one circular, which correspond to a vestibule and a burial chamber. It was modelled after the Shrine of the Sepulchre in the basilica in Jerusalem, just as many other buildings were inspired by the same theme in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

Inside, visitors are greeted by the statues of Mary Magdalene with the ointment jar and Saint Helena, who is traditionally believed to have been responsible for rediscovering the wood of the Cross. A small opening, which forces visitors to bow down, provides access to the narrow burial chamber, where a sarcophagus contains the unpainted statue of the deceased Christ, whose body looks convincingly stiff. On the wall, a lively fresco depicts the Deposition. The statue of Saint Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine, was placed here later. It was originally located in a chapel dedicated to her, which is now destroyed.

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