Key to Umbria: Assisi

Palazzo Vescovile (1612) and

Seminario Vescovile (1590s)

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Palazzo Vescovile


                                            Palazzo Vescovile,                             Rear of the complex,with the apse

                        to the right of Santa Maria Maggiore           of Santa Maria Maggiore to the right

The palace stands on foundations provided by the Roman walls of Assisi (still visible at the back of the place), and the 14th century circuit encloses its gardens.

Early History

The bishops of Assisi probably had a palace here, next to the original Duomo of Santa Maria Maggiore (to the left), from the time that the church was built.  (It was first documented in 963).  Bishop Ugone built a new episcopal residence on the site of the Palazzo dei Canonici della Cattedrale in ca. 1035, when the adjacent San Rufino became the Duomo of Assisi.  However, the bishops returned here in ca. 1082.  

St Francis relinquished his possessions before Bishop Guido I outside the earlier palace on the site in ca. 1208, and stayed here in 1226 before he was carried to the Portiuncula to die. 

Present Palace

Bishop Marcello Crescenzi began the present palace in 1612.  Cardinal Bishop Paolo Emilio Rondanini extended it and commissioned its decoration (see below) in 1653-6.  It is built around a cloister that is visible from Piazza del Vescovado.

The bronze statue of St Francis here is a copy of the statue (1881) by Giovanni Dupré that his daughter gave to San Rufino on the 700th anniversary of the birth of St Francis. 

Frescoes in the Galleria dei Vescovi (1653-6)

Cardinal Bishop Paolo Emilio Rondanini  commissioned the frescoes of this room in the palace, which are attributed to Giacomo Giorgetti.  They depict the the Rondanini arms and personifications of the virtues claimed for the family.  This web page on the site of GER-SO Srl illustrates their work on the restoration of these frescoes after the earthquake of 1997.

Art from Palazzo Vescovile

St Francis blessing Assisi (1640)

A document of 1806 records that Bishop Tegrimo Tegrimi (1630-41) commissioned Cesare Sermei to paint frescoes of scenes from the life of St Francis for the Sala Maggiore (main hall) of Palazzo Vescovile.  Unfortunately, they were destroyed when the palace was restored after the earthquake of 1832.  This panel, which was moved from Palazzo Vescovile to San Rufino in ca. 1685 presumably formed part of the same project: original designs for it by Cesare Sermei survive, and a lost inscription bore the date 1640.

The panel, which is now in the Museo Diocesano, depicts St Francis blessing Assisi as he is being taken from Palazzo Vescovile to the Portiuncula, which was where he wanted to die.  The figure standing on the right is probably a portrait of Bishop Tegrimi.

St John's Apparition of the Virgin on Patmos (17th century)

This panel by Giacomo Giorgetti was documented in Oratorio di San Crispino in 1875.  It was subsequently moved to Palazzo Vescovile and is now in the Museo Diocesano

Seminario Vescovile

Bishop Filippo Geri instituted the seminary of Assisi in 1574, in response to the criticisms of the Apostolic Visitation a year earlier.   However, the project proceeded slowly until the 1590s, when Bishop Marcello Crescenzi acquired the ex-nunnery of Sant' Angelo in Panzo and the palace beyond to provide premises.  His arms can be seen over one of the portals of the palace (on the left in the photograph above).   The church at number 7, which had belonged to Sant' Angelo in Panzo, was re-dedicated as San Carlo Borromeo at this time. 

The inscription over the main portal records that Bishop Tegrimo Tegrimi re-opened the Seminary in 1634.

The inscription on the curtain wall of the ex-nunnery of Sant' Angelo in Panzo (to the right of the main part of the palace illustrated above) records that Bishop Nicolò Sermattei enlarged the seminary in 1778.  

Return to Monuments of Assisi.

Return to Walk II (Palazzo Vescovile) or  Walk III (Seminario Vescovile).

Return to the home page on Assisi.