Key to Umbria: Montefalco

Santa Maria della Consolazione (1588)

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A fresco (see below) in an aedicule on this site became highly venerated in 1586, when it apparently cured a crippled man.  This created a popular movement that led to the construction of the basilica that now houses it.  There was a great deal of debate as to the appropriate site for the new building, but it was finally decided to leave the aedicule in place and to build the church around it.

In 1588, Clemente Bontadosi, Bishop of Nicastro laid the foundation stone of the church, which had a Greek cross plan based on that of the Sistine Chapel in Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome.  Documents record Gelio Parenzi da Spoleto as the architect.  However, while he probably played a part in the project, it seems more likely that the design was the work of the Perugian architect, Valentino Martelli:

  1. he was documented in Montefalco in 1589 and again in 1603-5, having been granted citizenship of the town in 1603; and

  2. the design of this church was used in 1592, probably by Valentino Martelli, for the Tempio del SS Crocifisso, Todi

The Jesuits had built an adjacent convent here in 1607.  The remains of a Roman building were discovered during its construction.  The Jesuits retained the complex until 1652.  The church was subsequently administered by the Commune.  Plans to use it as the cemetery church were mooted in 1817 and again in 1862, but these came to nothing.  It was subsequently abandoned when its roof and dome collapsed. It suffered further damage in the earthquake of 1997 and was subsequently restored.  However, it remains closed.

Madonna and Child with saints (1577)

This is the miraculous fresco mentioned above.  It depicts the Madonna and Child with SS Francis and Valentine.

Read more: 
S. Nessi, “Il Tempio della Consolazione di Montefalco”, Periodico dell’ Accademia di Montefalco , 18 (2004) 7-35

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