Key to Umbria: Foligno

The steps in front of the presbytery lead down to the crypt of the original church.   However, it is usually open to visitors from the Museo Diocesano.

According to Paola Guerrini and Francesca Latini (referenced below, at p. 129-30), what survives of the first church on this site is:

  1. “... essentially, the crypt and its oratory, together with the capitals of the columns that have been reused in it and, probably, some sculptural elements [both still in the crypt, illustrated as their Figures 62 and 63].  The church, in this phase, was already in the form a nave and two aisles, separated by columns, with the presbytery raised above the crypt and terminated in an apse” (my translation).

These remains suggest that this church and its crypt were built in the 11th century.

The crypt underwent renovations in the 17th and 19th centuries.  

Reliquary Chapel

The grating (17th century) on the first landing opens onto a collection of reliquaries. 

Reliquary of St Maron (1499)

The cranium of St Maron, the founder of the Maronite church, was venerated in a monastery in Lebanon from 686 AD.  According to Ludovico Jacobilli, Conte Michele degli Atti, Conte di Uppello brought it to Italy on his way back from a pilgrimage in 1130 and gave it to the Abbazia di Sassovivo: the crypt at the abbey is still known as the Cripta di San Marone  A church also dedicated as San Mauro was built on land that the abbey owned at Volperino di Foligno (16 km east of Sassovivo) in ca. 1135.  It probably housed the relic from 1138, when Pope Innocent II granted it indulgences.  (The feast of St Maron is still celebrated there on 17th August, the date on which the church was consecrated.)   Bishop Luca Cibo translated the relic to the Duomo in 1490.  It was subsequently encased in this reliquary, which represents the tonsured and wounded head of a young deacon.  This reliquary was translated from the Duomo to Sassovivo in 2000, when the Cripta di San Marone was re-opened after the damage done by the earthquake of 1997.  It was stolen in 2005 but subsequently recovered and placed in the crypt of the Duomo. 

Main part of the Crypt

The crypt is still used for the graves of the bishops of Foligno.

Columns (11th century)

The capitols of the columns in the rectangular space at the foot of the steps seems have been salvaged from the columns of the original structure.  The one illustrated here has a particularly interesting zoomorphic capital.

Roman Inscription (1st century AD)



This fragmentary inscription (CIL XI 5209), which is inserted in one of the columns, reads:

VO [... et]

[Iuno]NI R[eg(inae) et]

[Min]ERV[ae et]

[dis d]EAB[usque]

[...]IUSM(arci) [f(ilius) ...]

[... Sper]ATUS [...]

[... po]SUIT [

This inscription, which commemorates Juno and Minerva (with Jove possibly included in the top line) seems to have come from a base of some sort, presumably commissioned by ‘ ... ius  ... Sperlatus, son of  Marcus’.

According to Luigi Sensi (referenced below, at p. 312), the inscription:

  1. “... was probably executed in the 1st century AD, as seems to be indicated by the form of the letters and the type of monument.  The base might have supported a donario (donative altar) or a foculum (a small hearth used for sacrifices) used in the cult of the divinities [commemorated].  We are probable dealing with a gift offered in a local sanctuary, as seems to be indicate  by the use of the Apennine limestone, although we have no other data relating to its location” (my translation).


This column also has an interesting zoomorphic capital.

Early Christian Inscription (4th/ 5th century AD)

This funerary inscription (EDR 081014), which was moved here from San Valentino di Civitavecchia in 1918, reads:

[ ....]/ sedit a[nnos]

XVIII d[epositus]

kal(endas) iu[nias?  lias?]

It apparently came from the funerary monument of an early bishop who had held that post for 18 years before his death in June or July of an unknown year.  According to Francesca Lanzoni (referenced below, at pp. 450-1), it related to:

  1. “... a bishop of Foligno or Forum Flaminii.  [Archival records at the time of its transfer to Foligno] date it to the 4th century, although other scholars who have seen it think that we must date it to the 6th century or later” (my translation).

More recent estimates have been published by:

  1. Luigi Sensi (referenced below, at p. 315)  - between the late 4th century and the early 5th century;

  2. Gianfranco Binazzi (referenced below, at p. 102) - between the end of the 4th century and the middle of the 5th century;

  3. Paola Guerrini and Francesca Latini (referenced below, p. 277, in entry 31) - tentatively, 4th or 5th century; and

  4. the EDR database (see the link above) - 370 - 450 AD. 

Thus, the inscription might well commemorate a predecessor of either:

  1. Urbanus (documented in 487), the first bishop of civitas Fulginia for whom we have a name; or

  2. Boniface (documented in 502), the first bishop of Forum Flaminii for whom we have a name.

Lid of a Sarcophagus (8th century ?)

Four fragments of the lid of a sarcophagus were moved here from San Valentino di Civitavecchia in 1918.  Unfortunately, the last part of the inscription is missing, so we do not know whose sarcophagus it covered.  What survives of the inscription reads:

Hic requ[ies]cet in pace [...]

The form of words indicates that the deceased was a Christian and, given the find spot, we might reasonably assume that he had been buried in the cemetery of San Valentino.  Luigi Sensi (referenced below, at pp. 316-7) illustrated the fragments (as Figures 7 and 8, and dated it to roughly the 8th century.

Sculptural Elements (11th century ?)


According to Paola Guerrini and Francesca Latini (referenced below, p. 291 and Figures 62 and 63), these fragments in the crypt came from the original Duomo.

Read more:

P. Guerrini and F. Latini, “Foligno: Dal Municipium Romano alla Civitas Medievale: Archeologia e Storia di una Città Umbra”, (2012) Spoleto

L. Sensi, “La Raccolta Archeologica della Cattedrale di Foligno”, Bollettino Storico della Città di Foligno, 9 (1985) 305-26

G. Binazzi, “Inscriptiones Christianae Italiae: Regio VI; Umbria”, (1989) Bari

F. Lanzoni, “Le Diocesi d' Italia dalle Origini al Principio del Secolo VII”, Faenza (1927)

Return to the Main page on the Duomo.

Proceed to the Cella di San Pietro Crisci.


Duomo: Crypt (11th century)

Umbria:  Home   Cities    History    Art    Hagiography    Contact 


Foligno:  Home    History    Art    Saints    Walks    Monuments   Museums

Duomo:  Main page    Main Facade     Minor Facade    

                   Interior     Chapels     Crypt    Cella del Beato Pietro Crisci