Legend has it that once in Rome two men were quarreling under a statue of the Madonna with Child. The one who was having the worst of it begged the other to spare him, in the name of the Virgin, but the other man killed him anyway. From that moment on, it is said that the Madonna began to cry and the cult of the weeping Virgin spread quickly from Rome to many other cities. In Foligno, the statue was preserved as early as 1637 in the church of St. Leonardo. Located in the heart of the city, the building became an important sanctuary but was completely razed to the ground by World War II bombardments. Because of this, the continuity of the cult was made possible thanks to the transfer to the Church of S. Agostino (St Augustine), opposite Piazza Garibaldi, where the statue of the Madonna del Pianto (Weeping Madonna) is still preserved today.
It is standing inside a niche above the central altar, enclosed in a wooden temple-like structure supported by two angels and hidden by a painting on canvas depicting the Virgin herself, a work by the Foligno artist Matilde Galligari Mattoli. The statue is taken out and shown to the faithful only on the day of its commemoration, the Sunday before the feast of St. Anthony the Abbot, in the month of January.
Built in the thirteenth century and then modified and renovated in the eighteenth century, the monastic complex was the seat of the first nucleus of the Augustinian order of friars in Foligno, where it remained until 1810.
The church still preserves some Gothic structures – in the bell tower in rows of pink and white stone, typical of many churches in the city, and in the two large windows on the left side.
Reconstruction work from 1748 to 1750 gave the church the main facade consisting of four Corinthian columns and two symbolic statues, created by Nicolò Cesari and Francesco Antonio Bettini on a design by Pietro Loni.
Under the tympanum, you can read the dedicatory inscription mentioning the friar Generoso Cialdelli, administrator of the convent and last exponent of the family who financed the work of the external façade and that of some chapels inside.