I'm not sure that I can truly call these three pieces street shrines -- perhaps the second one is the only real shrine because it seems more devotional than the other two.
In any event, I find these works interesting and thanks to Annie, I've been paying much more attention to some of the street art, or shrines, that one sees so often in Italy.
One my first full day in Parma, in early June, I came across two interesting examples. These were very close together, and just to one side of the fascinating Chiesa magistrale della Steccata -- the Church of St Mary of Steccata. (It boasts not only some great art, but has been the site of two -- count 'em, two -- miracle-working images!)
The first piece of street art, shown above, depicts Saint George slaying his dragon. The inscription refers to the "Order of St. Constantine Giorgio" or possibly the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George, the oldest international Roman Catholic order of chivalry.
According to the legend, the dragon represents a multitude of woes, including the plague (a major preoccupation in Europe throughout the centuries) and of course, sin and hell.
I saw this theme of St. George and the dragon repeated from time to time across the Emilia-Romagna region, in north-central Italy. It actually appears in many places in Italy -- and the world -- and George is the patron saint of Ferrara, an important city in the E-R region.
According to the Golden Legend, St. George met the Dragon, possibly in Libya where the dragon lived in a huge lake and terrorized the population. They fed the dragon sheep until these ran out, then they offered their children, chosen by lottery. Finally, it came the turn of the King's daughter, who caught the eye of St. George. He seriously wounded the dragon to halt the attack, and then George also offered to protect the people by destroying the beast, if they all converted to Christianity.
So, I imagine that this Parma shrine to George was intended as protection against plagues, demons, sins and other related woes.
The second, nearby shrine is to the Madonna and child and is only steps away from St. George of Parma.
This final piece of art, which I found in medieval Bologna, caught my eye. It sits in an arch above the back entrance to the ex-chiesa di San Giobbe, or former church of Job, which dates to the 15th century when it also served as a hospital. It has now been turned into an airy shopping and business arcade.