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Le Laudario di Cortona 

Briefly | Cortona | Painters | Etruscans  > Laudario di Cortona

The Laudario of Cortona is a collection of sixty-six 13th century religious songs, discovered in the archives of the Museum of the Etruscan Academy in 1876.

Although some 200 such ‘song books’ have come down to us, only 2 (the Magliabechiano Codex in the Italian National Library in Florence, and the Laudario di Cortona - Codex 91 of the Etruscan Academy) contain both the text and the music. 

Laude’ or Lauds are songs of praise to the Virgin, to the Saints, or to Christ’s life.  They were written in the vulgar tongue (here, in Italian rather than in the Latin used by the Church) by lay communities in the 12th and 13th centuries in reaction against the official church. St. Francis of Assisi played a part in the success of this popular movement:  his Canticle of all Creatures is a hymn of praise written in Italian.

It is hardly surprising that the Laudario was found in Cortona given the city’s importance in the history of the Franciscan movement.  St. Francis of Assisi stayed frequently at Le Celle monastery and dictated his will there.  Brother Elias, the first Vicar General of the order and one of the principal diplomats of the period, is closely linked with Cortona and was responsible for the building of the large San Francesco church.  Saint Margaret, the third great name of Franciscanism after Saints Francis and Clare (founder of the ‘Poor Clares’), is the patron saint of Cortona and is thought to be the inspiration for the Laudario.   

The Lauds are sung at least twice a year in the life of Cortona:  on Good Friday during the procession of the stations of the cross through the city and during the Santa Margarita festival in May.

The CD can be purchased at the Museum of the Etruscan Academy (short version or complete version with 3 CDs and CDRom).  

Listen to an excerpt