Santa Maria della Spina

Pisa, Italy

Santa Maria della Spina

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Santa Maria della Spina is a small church in the Italian city of Pisa. The church, erected around 1230 in the Pisan Gothic style, and enlarged after 1325, was originally known as Santa Maria di Pontenovo for the newer bridge that existed nearby, collapsed in the 15th century, and was never rebuilt.

The name of della Spina ("of the thorn") derives from the presence of a thorn, putatively part of the crown of thorns placed on Christ during his Passion and Crucifixion. The relic was brought to this church in 1333. In 1871 the church was dismantled and rebuilt on a higher level due to dangerous infiltration of water from the Arno river. The church was altered in the process, however, and John Ruskin, who visited Pisa in 1872, was outraged about the restoration. The church no longer houses the “thorn”. The “thorn” is now in the Chiesa di Santa Chiara, which is on show inside and can be found on Via Roma.

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