The Fifteenth- and Early Sixteenth-Century Gonfaloni of Perugia
The most famous of the religious processional banners of Perugia, or ‘gonfaloni’, are the great plague banners, of which the earliest is dated 1464. To understand their significance it is necessary to explore the whole range of objects to which the term ‘gonfalone’ was applied. The idea of the plague banner as a prayer is explicit in some later examples. Such artefacts address the people and can be understood as teaching about and exhorting to devout penitence and faith in the Virgin to help in their suffering, but they were also part of a positive testimony of devotion addressed to the Virgin herself. The form of the ‘gonfalone’ was itself that of a visual prayer.