Santo Cristo de Valerio Cioli (1529-1599), also author of the
statues of Michelangelo’s tomb. Name and date that appear engraved on the bottom of
the purity cloth of the image.
It is made of marble in one piece, except the arms. It emphasizes in him the majestic and serene expression of his face. It was commissioned by Felipe II for El Escorial (Madrid), but he did not like it, considering it too muscular; he gave it to the Cardinal with whom he was joined by a great friend who sent him to Monforte de Lemos.
In its place Philip II placed another marble Christ, in this case Bemvenuto Cellini. Christ that Cellini decided to execute as a fulfillment of a vow inspired by a dream he had in the year 1539, being imprisoned in Castel Sant’Angelo by order of Pope Paul III. According to the artist himself in his memoirs, in that dream he had this vision:
“I looked like this sun without its rays, nothing more nor less than a pure gold liquified bath. While I was contemplating this great thing, I saw begin to inflate in the middle of the sun and grow that form of said bulge, and suddenly form a Christ in cross, of the same substance as the sun. And his beautiful grace was so great and his appearance so benign, that human ingenuity could not imagine a thousandth part. “
After twenty years, the sculptor decided to fulfill his promise, with the intention that the sculpture was placed in his grave. However, by a request of Duke Cosme I de Médici, who saw her in his workshop and proposed to buy it, became part of the collection of the Pitti Palace.
In 1576, the crucifix was given by the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Francisco I de Médici, to King Philip II of Spain, and sent specially from Florence to “auction his church in San Lorenzo del Escorial.” The Jerónimo of that monastery Antonio de Villacastín describes it like this:
“On November 9, 1576, King Don Felipe, our founder, sent to send the Pardo, where he was present, for a Crucifixion that had arrived there that was sent to him by the Grand Duke of Tuscany. Batista Cabrera then left with fifty men to carry him on his shoulders, and this was done. San Lorenzo el Real arrived here on Saint Crucifixo on the eve of San Martín, November 11 of that year. He stood in the Chapter, in the doorway, until his Majesty dictates otherwise. Note: that the one who made this Christ wrote a book that is entitled Benevenuto Celino, in the way that it should be to work in marble, in which book deals with the work he had in labralle and the curiosity that ended him and how is the first piece of crucifix that has been carved to this day. He also has the said book out of two sonnets in Tuscan, admirable.”
After a restoration of the year 1994, the Christ was placed in the chapel of the Doctors, on the left side of the foot of the Basilica, continuing modestly covered with a cloth since the Christ is absolutely naked to the Renaissance taste.