View of the exterior of the Museum of Biblical Art. 

Many tourists passing through Florence on the twenty-fourth of June, and not forewarned, will find themselves in a city virtually shut down and single-mindedly intent on celebrating its patron saint: John the Baptist. Florentines chose the Precursor as their guardian in the tenth century and have stuck with him ever since, depicting him as the Christ Child’s playmate in countless “Holy Family” scenes and as the wasted, ascetic desert-dweller administering the first sacrament to the adult Savior. The story with Salome and its gruesome aftermath had much greater appeal to seventeenth-century counter-reformation artists. At all events, in one incarnation or another, the Baptist is ever-present in Florentine art and, on the twenty-fourth of June, the city turns out to honor him in a succession of civic,...


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