The first work of architecture we find along via Roma is the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Soccorso, at the corner with via del Ceppo, outside Porta S. Trinita. Like other Tuscan churches, this sanctuary was built to protect a tabernacle that was the site of a miracle.
Legend says that on November 6, 1570, a shepherdess was caught in a terrible storm, so she took refuge in this small aedicule, which contained an image of the Virgin Mary nursing baby Jesus. The ditches began to overflow and the countryside risked flooding. The girl began to pray to the holy image and she and her flock were protected from the rain.
This event was followed by other miraculous moments that convinced Prato’s religious authorities that a sanctuary should be built in this spot. The building was based on a design by Alfonso di Santi Parigi and erected between 1575 and 1585. On April 25, 1578, the miraculous tabernacle was moved inside the church in a solemn ceremony. Santi di Tito, who trained with Bronzino, was hired to paint the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, which was meant to enclose the niche with the holy image of the Virgin Mary. The welcoming porch surrounding the church was designed to offer refuge to the many pilgrims who came to the church every once in a while: on the first Sunday in May, there is still a ceremony during which the faithful gift oil for the votive lamps, attended by many residents from the neighbourhood.