Key to Umbria: Assisi

Santa Maria delle Rose (8th century)

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The church was originally known as Santa Maria Minore (to distinguish it from Santa Maria Maggiore).  It stands on foundations provided by a Roman terrace  and is therefore sometimes called Santa Maria del Sopramura.

The church was first documented in 1198, when Pope Innocent III confirmed it as a possession of the bishops of Assisi.  However, it was already ancient at this date and might have been built (or even rebuilt) in the Carolingian reconstruction of the city in the late 8th century. 

The sombre facade lacks many of its original features.   An inscription on it (which is surrounded by medieval fragments) records that Bishop Marco Palmerini re-consecrated the church in 1726.

Left Side of the Church


The double-vaulted arch under the campanile, to the left of the church, was built with blocks that were probably taken from a Roman temple that originally stood on the site.  The side door to the church under the first arch has a fresco (late 12th century) of the Madonna and Child in a niche above the architrave.

These photographs illustrate some of the early medieval reliefs above and to the right of portal.


The interior of the church was remodelled in the early 18th century, and an inscription on the facade records that Bishop Marco Palmerini re-consecrated it in 1726.   The early medieval reliefs that surround the inscription probably date to the original construction.

[Note the frescoes (1618) [subject ???] in the apse.]

The church is now deconsecrated and served for a period as a cinema.  The interior has been recently restored, and it now houses an exhibition of modern works of art by Guido Dettoni della Grazia on the theme of the Virgin Mary.

Art from the Church

Madonna dell Rosario (1581)

The Confraternita del SS Rosario commissioned this altarpiece, which is dated by inscription, for their altar in the church.  It is attributed to Lorenzo Doni (the son of Dono Doni). 
  1. The scene in the lunette depicts God the Father and angels.

  2. The main scene depicts the Madonna and Child enthroned: the Madonna gives a rosary to St Clare which the naked baby Jesus gives another to St Dominic.

  3. The small scenes depict episodes from the lives of Christ and the Virgin.

The altarpiece is now in the Museo Diocesano.

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