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From the knowledgeable hands of artisans, master sculptors and metal founders of the Fonderia Artistica Ferdinando Marinelli, was born the Holy Door, opened by Pope Francesco in Vatican City, last December 8th.

The history of the Fonderia Artistica Ferdinando Marinelli di Firenze (situated in Barberino Val d’Elsa) about the outset is a testimony to art and culture as well as to artisan ability that has been passed along for centuries. The techniques are the same as those used by classical antiquity and the Renaissance.

This is the “grande bellezza”  the glue that unites Florence, the Chianti region, and the Vatican. It is the door that was made for the 1950 holy year by the Florentine custodians of ancient secrets of the past.  Before the making of the holy door, in 1932, the foundry, (again for the Vatican), made bronze statues for the great monumental staircase of the Vatican Museum.

Another work, (also considered a holy door) is that of Saint Maria Maggiore in Rome. It was completed in 1947. The Fonderia has two main strengths; their collection of plaster casts and “cera persa”  the melting of leftover wax, a technique used in the past by Renaissance workshops.

The artisans of the foundry, a team of young people and adults which unites sculptors, artisans and bronzists, use the antique method of “cera persa”, taking advantage of an age-old secret and putting together a sequence of complex procedures.

All of the phases are manual and require expert artisans to follow them. Among the most recent works made for the Vatican is the “tactile” sculpture in bronze that celebrates and reproduces the celebrated Madonna of Bruges by Michelangelo.

For the first time non-seeing visitors are able to feel and see by touch the extraordinary forms of Michelangelo’s sculptures, thanks to the donation by the American Ronald Welborn and his family to the Vatican museums.

The work, created in the foundry of Barberino, enriches the artistic patrimony of the Vatican museums with an important addition dedicated to the disabled and especially non-seeing visitors.