Key to Umbria: Assisi

Oratorio di San Lorenzo (14th century)

Umbria:  Home   Cities    History    Art    Hagiography    Contact 


Assisi:  Home    History    Art    Saints    Walks    Monuments    Museums 

This oratory belonged to the Confraternita di San Lorenzo, which is documented from 1329.   Bishop Nicolò Sermattei suppressed the confraternity in 1772, and the oratory passed first to the Confraternita di Sant Antonio and then into private hands in 1860.  It received its current appearance after 1933, when the American Mary Lowell Berkley bought it.  She lived here for some forty years and was given the honour of citizenship of Assisi in 1961.  (She restored the tiny church of San Feliciano and painted the panels that are still on the altar wall there).
The portal (16th century) of the oratory on the left has the grill of San Lorenzo (the emblem of the confraternity) on its architrave.  
The older wall in front of you contains a frescoed shrine (ca. 1394).  The very damaged fresco, which is signed by Chola pictor (Cola Petruccioli), depicts the Madonna and Child with SS Francis and Laurence and members of the confraternity: SS Rufinus and Victorinus stand to the sides, under the arch.  It was probably painted during the documented visit by Cola Petruccioli to Assisi in 1394. 


An architrave (3rd century BC) that probably came from a nearby gate in the wall of Asisium was found in the garden in 1938.  It contains an important Umbrian inscription that is the earliest ever found in Assisi.  The first line seems to confirm that the stone was part of a gate, while the second seems to mean “under the “meddix” (magistrate) Vibius E…”.   The original is not visible to the public but there is a cast of it in the Museo Civico.  The inscription is also described in the page The inscription is also described in the page on Umbrian Inscriptions  after 295BC.
Art from the Oratory 
Processional Banner (ca. 1550)
This banner was documented in 1865, after its removal from the oratory, with an attribution to Dono Doni.  It was subsequently lost, until Francis Russell (referenced below) drew attention to its appearance in a public sale in New York in 1978.  He suggested that it had been painted ca. 1550. 
The banner, which is now in a private collection, depicts: 
the Crucifixion with the Virgin and St John the Evangelist, with St Mary Magdalene at the foot of the cross, in the upper part of the composition; and 
six saints (including SS Francis, Clare, Rufinus and Victorinus) and members of the confraternity below.
Gonfalon (1673)
This double-sided processional banner from the oratory may be the work that Giovanni Andrea Carlone, il Genovese mentioned in a letter to Bishop Ludovico Giustiniani in 1673. 
One side depicts St Laurence working a miracle. 
The other side depicts the martyrdom of St Laurence.
The  banner is now in the Museo Diocesano. 
Martyrdom of St Laurence (1679-80)
A surviving document records that, in 1680, Pietro Montanini was commissioned to paint a banner for one of the confraternities of Assisi (probably the Confraternita dei San Lorenzo) that Giacomo Giorgetti had left unfinished when he died in 1679.  [Is this the banner above ??]