The Fifteenth-Century Florentine ‘sacra rappresentazione’

Paola Ventrone*

*Corresponding author

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this paper is to explain that the term sacra rappresentazione cannot be used, as it currently is, to define all forms of medieval religious theatre, since it was a new and original dramatic genre, created in Florence around the late 1440s, through the initiative of Cosimo de’ Medici, the Archbishop Antonino Pierozzi, and several pious intellectuals. Initially it was directed at the members of youth confraternities. It was intended to offer examples of good life, taken above all from the Holy Scriptures and the Legenda Aurea, in order to induce the boys who played in and watched these performances to imitate them. In doing so, the sacra rappresentazione made use of a ‘pedagogical realism’, that is the mirroring of reality, with the aim of enabling young actors to identify with the characters in the stories and their backgrounds. Therefore, the sacra rappresentazione constituted a project of ‘mass’ education, in political and religious terms, for the young generations of medicean Florence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-64
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Medieval Drama
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Sacra rappresentazione, Firenze, Famiglia Medici, Feo Belcari, Antonino Pierozzi, Girolamo Savonarola, Castellano Castellani, pedagogia umanistica
  • Sacra rappresentazione, Florence, Medici family, Feo Belcari, Antonino Pierozzi, Girolamo Savonarola, Castellano Castellani, Humanistic pedagogy


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