Key to Umbria: Orvieto

San Pietro in Vetere (12th century ?)

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Aerial photograph of the excavation

of a church at Campo della Fiera that is

probably San Pietro in Vetere

The remains of what seems to have been the church of San Pietro in Vetere were discovered during the excavations at the Campo della Fiera in 2001.  Excavation in the area below the church has revealed a fragment of what is probably Roman mosaic and a platform made from tufa blocks that were probably cut in Etruscan times.   These and other finds suggest that the area was in use as a cult site almost continuously from Etruscan times until the 14th century.

This probably became the site of San Pietro in Vetere, which was documented from 1211.  It was ceded in turn to two newly-arrived mendicant orders: 

  1. to the Franciscans in ca. 1232-43, before they moved to San Francesco; and

  2. to the Servites in 1260-5, before they moved to Santa Maria dei Servi.

Once the mendicants had moved to their respective urban churches, San Pietro in Vetere served the suburb that flourished here until the Black Death (1348) wiped it out.

Franciscans at San Pietro in Vetere

The Franciscans, who settled in Orvieto in the 1220s, seem to have bought an existing church and convent here in 1232.  Fra. Morico, one of the early companions of St Francis, apparently lived here, together with his associate, the Blessed Ambrose of Massa.  He died here in 1240.

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