Tabernacles are lovely frescoed or sculptured niches shaped like small temples. During medieval times they were placed on almost every corner and usually contained a sacred image— often of the Madonna and Child. Tabernacles have been important since the 1200s but became particularly important in 1348, after the plague wiped out more than half of the Florentine population. The Church, to keep up morale, had these ‘shrines’ decorated with religious images so people could worship outside. Their intent was to keep the sickly masses out of the churches as to not spread the disease. Donatello’s Madonna and Child located on Via Pietrapiana is one of the many tabernacles commissioned by wealthy Florentines during this time.