Key to Umbria: Gubbio

The Confraternita della Beata Vergine Maria (also known as the Confraternita dei Bianchi or dei Laici), which was formed in 1313, acquired a house on this site two years later.  It built this church on the site in 1325 and the adjacent hospice (later the Ospedale della Misericordia) in 1326.  This was to form the nucleus for the creation of the hospital of Gubbio.

The campanile was built in 1467.

The church reopened as a museum after a long restoration in 2010.  This external webpage has an interesting video of the opening presentation.


The campanile was built in 1467.

The portal in the façade on Via Piccardi dates to the 17th century remodelling. 

Interior of the Church

The church is on two levels. 

Most of the frescoes of the crypt (below) were detached in 1966, restored and moved temporarily to the Museo Diocesano - see “Art from the Church” below.

The main church has a single nave.

The interior was remodelled in the 17th century and many of the frescoes (14th century) on the walls were covered in plaster.  The present vaults replaced the original wooden ceiling.

Scenes from the life of the Virgin (ca. 1607)

This cycle of 24 panels along the walls of the nave was commissioned from to Felice Damiani.  The panels were restored in 1984, and it was confirmed that they are mostly by Damiani himself, although a few might be by his workshop.  They include this panel of the Circumcision of Christ, which is above the entrance.

Annunciation (1609-19)

When the Confraternita dei Laici wrote to the aged Federico Barocci in 1609, requesting an altarpiece for their church, his agent replied that he greatly desired to paint something for Gubbio before he died.  Despite some worries about the likely price and also the length of time that the commission would take, the confraternity decided to proceed, provided that Barocci agreed that the work would not be delegated.  They made a down payment in 1610, along with a much smaller payment to Ventura Massa, Barocci’s associate, who agreed to put pressure on Barocci to complete the work.  However, the panel was incomplete when Barocci died in 1612.  After a period of uncertainty, the confraternity commissioned Ventura Massa to complete it in 1619.

The panel seems originally to have been used in processions, but the confraternity decided in 1641 to end this practice, presumably because it was being damaged.  It was finally installed on the new high altar of Santa Maria dei Laici in 1672.

The composition is obviously similar to other s based Barocci’s Annunciation (1582-4) in the Basilica della Santa Casa, Loreto (see Assisi above).  However, the view of Urbino from the window in the prototype and others based on it has been replaced here by a view of Gubbio.

Annunciation (1646)

A recently published document records that the Confraternita dei Laici made a payment to Giovanni Battista Michelini, il Folignate for this altarpiece in 1646.  As noted above, the confraternity had ended its practice of taking the earlier altarpiece of the Annunciation in procession in 1641, and this probably gave rise to the present commission.  It is among the first works by Michelini in Gubbio.

Altarpieces (1692-3)


These two  altarpieces by Antonio Gherardi  are to the sides or the presbytery:

  1. the Birth of Jesus (1692), on the left and

  2. the Adoration of the Magi (1693), on the right.

Frescoes (ca. 1661)

These frescoes depicting paradise, which are attributed to Francesco Allegrini, are in the vaults of the apse.

Art from the Church

Madonna and Child with angels (13th century)

This large fresco in the Museo Diocesano, which is attributed to the  Maestro Espressionista di Santa Chiara (Palmerino di Guido?), was detached from the facade of Santa Maria dei Laici in 1974.

St Antony Abbot (14th century)

This fresco in the Museo Diocesano which was detached from an external niche on the right wall in 1964, is attributed to Guiduccio Palmerucci.

Madonna and Child with angels (early 14th century)

This altarpiece in the Pinacoteca Civica, which has been damaged by fire, came from Santa Maria dei Laici. 

Gonfalon (1456)

Guerriero Campioni, the Prior of the Confraternita dei Bianchi commissioned this processional banner from Domenico di Cecco.  It was to be modelled on one that was already in use (“quello vecchio").

Scenes from the Passion (15th century)

These detached frescoes, which were detached from the crypt in the 1970s, are attributed to Giacomo di Benedetto Bedi.  They depict:

  1. Christ washing the feet of the Disciples;

  2. the Last Supper;

  3. Christ praying in the Garden of Gethsemane;

  4. the Crucifixion;

  5. the Deposition;

  6. the scene at the abandoned tomb.

[They are temporarily displayed in the Museo Diocesano (in Room I, off the Cloister) but will be returned to their original location]

Organ Casing (1495)

This documented work by Mariotto di Paolo Sensi, il Terzuolo no longer survives.

Gonfalone della Misericordia (1533-4)

The Confraternita di Santa Maria dei Laici commissioned this banner from Giuliano Presutti in 1533.  It passed to the Collezione Ranghiasci and is now owned by Finch College, New York.  It depicts the Madonna della Misericordia with angels and members of the confraternity.  As explained in this external webpage, the relevant documents were linked to the banner by Professore Ettore Sannipoliin in 2009.

Return to Monuments of Gubbio.

Return to Walk I.


Santa Maria dei Laici (1325)

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