The doll will leave Italy for the first time to be featured in the exhibition.
It was created in the 15th century for St Camilla Battista da Varano, a princess-turned-nun who had visions of the Madonna kissing the Christ Child. St Camilla Battista was canonised in 2010.
During the Renaissance era, many Italian women had similar dolls which they dressed and cared for to mimic the Virgin Mary’s bond with the baby Jesus.
Every year, hundreds of people make pilgrimage to the church where the doll is kept to kiss it during the feast of the Epiphany.
The exhibition will also feature three groups of ex-voto paintings from the 15th and 16th centuries, none of which have ever been on display in Britain before. Ex-voto paintings were created as offerings to the Church in acts of gratitude or devotion.
The exhibition aims to challenge the “idea of the Renaissance as an age of increasing worldliness” and “shows how religion remained a powerful force that coloured every aspect of daily life”.
“Across the length and breadth of Italy, houses were filled with decorative objects and works of art with spiritual significance, designed to aid members of the family in their devotional lives,” according to promotional material.
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