Key to Umbria: Gubbio

Basilica di Sant’ Ubaldo (1513-27)

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In 1194, the relics of St Ubaldus were translated from the Duomo to a small oratory here, which was near an oratory that was dedicated to the Milanese SS Gervasio and Protasio.  It is likely that this site was chosen so that the soldiers stationed at the nearby Rocca Posteriore could protect them.  Recent research has located this oratory under the present campanile (below).

This oratory seems to have fallen into disrepair, and in the early 16th century, Duke Guidobaldo I planned the present church.  Pope Julius II gave permission for custody of it to be awarded to a community of Lateran Canons.  When Guidobaldo died in 1508 his widow, Elisabetta Gonzaga and her niece, Eleonore (the wife of Duke Francesco Maria I delle Rovere) continued the construction. 

In 1787 , the basilica passed to the Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ, which had been  founded by St Paul of the Cross and approved by Pope Benedict XIII in 1725.  It was suppressed in the Naploleonic period and then passed to theFranciscans in 1816.  They were expelled during the period 1860-1910, and when they returned they undertook a significant programme of restoration (1915-23).  They left in 2013 and the basilica now belongs to the Diocesi di Gubbio.


A Renaissance portal at the top of a flight of steps leads to a cloister with polygonal columns and a pavement made of brick.  The entrance to the church is opposite. 

The façade contains three portals with the original wooden doors.  Recent work on the façade revealed a window over the right door that came from the earlier oratory of SS Gervasio and Protasio.

Scenes from the life of St Ubaldus (16th century)

Hardly any trace of this fresco cycle in the cloister survives.  [It is by/ attributed to Pier Angelo Basili (died 1604)].


Huge pillars divide the interior space into a nave and four aisles. 

The stained glass windows (1922) in the apsidal chapels and the counter-façade depict scenes from the life of St Ubaldus.  Those in the apse show his death in 1160 and the translation of the relics up the mountain on an ox-drawn cart in 1194. 

Two sarcophagi that previously contained the relics of St Ubaldus, [which were temporarily kept in  Santa Maria Nuova] were moved [back] to Sant’ Ubaldo in 1997.

  1. The sarcophagus (13th century) to the left of the apse was decorated with panels (early 14th century) that are attributed to the Maestro Espressionista di Santa Chiara (Palmerino di Guido?).

  2. The relics were transferred to the sarcophagus (18th century) that now stands to the right of the apse in 1721.

In 1866, the relics of St Ubaldus were translated to the glass and gilded brass coffin (1860) in the apse, which rests on a neo-Gothic altar.  The bronze statues at the corners represent SS James, Marianus, Sperandia (the sister of St Ubaldus), Francis, Ridolfus and John of Lodi, along with the Blessed Villanus and the Blessed Forte Gabrielli.

The image of the orant (praying) Madonna is a copy of the one to which St Ubaldus prayed in 1119 during the three months in which he lived at Santa Maria in Porto at Ravenna in order to experience its reformed way of life.  It employs typical Byzantine iconography.

Transfiguration (1585)

Vincenzo Buffi commissioned this altarpiece that is now in the 2nd bay on the right for a chapel in San Domenico.  It is by/ attributed to Giovanni Maria Baldassini.  The upper part is based on the famous altarpiece by Raphael (1520), which was originally in San Pietro in Montorio in Rome and is now in the Pinacoteca Vaticana.  Below, SS Ubaldus and Augustine are depicted below with SS Thomas Aquinas, Dominic, Francis and Catherine of Siena behind them. 

Baptism of Christ (ca. 1599)

This altarpiece in the 1st bay on the right is by/attributed to Felice Damiani.  It was originally in the church of Santa Croce del Mercato, which was demolished in 1823.  It was brought here in the early 20th century.

Madonna and Child with saints (1608-10)

The inscription on this panel (where) records that it was commissioned to mark the birth of Federico Ubaldo, the much-needed heir of Duke  Francesco Maria II in Pesaro in 1605 (on the feast of St Ubaldus).  It was commissioned from Salvio Savini, in 1608 (after Federico Barrocci had declined) and delivered two years later.  It depicts the Madonna and Child seated on a cloud, flanked by SS John the Baptist and Ubaldus.  Below, the ducal messenger announces the good news in Piazza Grande, in a scene that contains one of the oldest images of Palazzo dei Consoli.  Unfortunately, it is badly damaged.

St Augustine gives a rule to the Augustinians (1619)

Elisabetta Brancaleoni Ansidei (who had married into the Perugian Ansidei family) commissioned this huge panel from Avanzino Nucci on the death of her young son, Annibale Ansidei.  The panel, which was painted in Rome, was installed in his burial chapel (in the 1st bay on the left) in 1619.  It depicts the Madonna and Child in glory while St Augustine below gives a copy of the Augustinian Rule to two young canons, flanked by SS Nicholas of Bari and Ubaldus.  (The subject was almost certainly chosen by the Lateran Canons of Sant’ Ubaldo, whose rule derived from one written by St Augustine).

Martyrdom of St Ursula (ca. 1655-7)

The Armanni family commissioned this altarpiece from Francesco Allegrini for their altar on the right wall of San Filippo Neri.   It was transferred to Sant’ Agostino in 1784 and  passed to the Comune di Gubbio in ca. 1860.  It was moved to here in 1919 and is now in the 3rd bay on the right.  The altarpiece depicts the saint as a princess carrying a swirling banner and the palm of martyrdom, with her martyred companions in the background. 

Santa Maria Addolorata (18th century)

This altarpiece of the grieving Virgin is [where ?]  An inscription containing the signature of Tommaso Conca was found on it during its restoration in 1994.  A degree of over-painting was removed at this time, including a black veil on the Virgin’s head and a sword embedded in her breast.

The inscription mentioned above also includes the date 1789, but this is probably the date of its installation in its present location: stylistic considerations suggest that it was painted some decades earlier.  Tommaso Conca worked a number of churches of the Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ in 1766-92, and it seems likely that they brought this altarpiece to Sant’ Ubaldo from one of these when they moved here in 1787.

St Francis in Ecstasy (19th century)

This altarpiece, which is by/attributed to Camilla Filicchi, is where ??  [Dated by inscription ?]

Raccolta delle Memorie Ubaldiane

Altar frontal (date?)

[Encounter between St Ubaldus and the Emperor Frederick I.]

Madonna and Child with saints (date)

This altarpiece from San Felicissimo, which has recently been restored, depicts the Madonna and Child with SS Ubaldus and John the Baptist.

St Ubaldus (ca. 1816)

This altarpiece by Annibale Beni, which depicts St Ubaldus in his coffin, came from San Giuliano.  

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