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Car for forty hours

Venerable Archconfraternity of S. Maria dell'Orto - Diocese of Rome


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Machine for the Quarantore (Lazio)

  • Archconfraternity of S. Maria dell'Orto

    One of the most typical traditions of our Archconfraternity, and of which we are most proud, is undoubtedly the machine for the Forty Hours. The latter was a devout practice born in the sixteenth century and based on the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament for forty consecutive hours. Prolonged Eucharistic adoration was to be a source of meditation or penance, so the Forty Hours could take place, above all, during Holy Week or on other particular liturgical occasions, or even all times when serious circumstances required it (infirmity of the reigning pope , impending dangers for the community, etc.). 

    To give a worthy and solemn setting to the exposition of the Eucharistic Body, spectacular scenographies of exquisitely theatrical taste were initially set up (known precisely as sacred theater ) which then gave way to complex and artistic architectural structures mostly in gilded wood called "machines" [...] intended precisely for the Quarantore . That of S. Maria dell'Orto, last in Rome and perhaps in Italy still in service activity in its entirety, consists of a superb and artistic work of wood carving - divided into a series of parts to be assembled ad hoc - due to the skilful chisel of master Filippo Clementi (who was also a member of the Sodality) who designed and built it in 1848, involving an expense of 500 scudi for the artifact and another 50 for hot gilding using sheets of pure gold.

    The apparatus consists of over 220 wax candle holders, scattered in the complex Baroque style architecture made of floral elements and leafy giràli. It occupies about 7 meters in width and develops in height, being placed on the various orders of the main altar, for about 3 meters. It is estimated that the whole apparatus has a weight of not less than one ton.

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