Key to Umbria: Perugia

Duomo (San Lorenzo) (1435-81)

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According to a hagiographic tradition that probably developed over the 12th and 13th centuries, Bishop Rogerio translated the relics of St Herculanus from the Abbazia di San Pietro to “ecclesesia beati Laurencij”.  According to local historians, this bishop was documented in 936.  The church in question was the earlier Duomo of Perugia, which was probably built on this site in the 10th century. 

In 1300, at a meeting that was held in the cloister of San Francesco al Prato, the leading citizens of Perugia took the momentous decision to build a new Duomo.  However, work did not begin until 1343, when Bishop Francesco Graziani persuaded Pope Clement VI to grant a plenary indulgence to those contributing to the cost of construction.  Bishop Graziani laid the foundation stone soon after.

In 1373-5, the papal legate Gérard du Puy, Abbot of Marmoutier, (known to the Italians as “Monmaggiore”) raided the construction site for building material for the Fortezza di Porta Sole.  He also demolished the ancient campanile in order to build a corridor linking his new fortress to the Palazzo dei Priori.  After he had been driven out of the city in the rebellion of 1375, his fortress was demolished and the material used in the renewed attempt to rebuild the Duomo.  The original church was then progressively subsumed by its successor. 

The arms of King Ladislas of Naples on the wall to the left of the present side entrance suggests that the construction project had reached this point by 1408-14, the period of Ladislas' control of the city.  Braccio Fortebracci built the so-called Loggia di Braccio in 1423 to link the new Duomo to his palace. 

The work of rebuilding finally began in earnest under Bishop Giovanni Andrea Baglioni (1435-49), who was instrumental in building up the finances needs for the project.  For example, he suppressed the nunnery of Santa Maria della Colombata in 1437, selling their goods to raise funds and demolishing their church to provide building materials.  He also made a considerable donation from his on income.   

Bishop Jacopo Vagnucci (1449-82) used his excellent papal connections to raise further funds for the construction of the Duomo, particularly during the Jubilee of 1450. Payments Bartolomeo di Mattiolo da Torigiano (see above) in 1451-7 , and the facade that he had started in 1437 was complete in 1452.  The vaulting of the nave and the demolition of the redundant vestiges of the earlier church were completed during the tenure of Jacopo Vagnucci, and he also commissioned the addition of the transepts to the original plan in ca. 1480.  He consecrated the chapel in the right transept, the Cappella di Sant’ Onofrio before his resignation in 1482 (after his appointment as Archbishop of Nicea).

His successor and nephew, Dionisio Vagnucci (1482-91) was given the responsibility for the decoration of this chapel, which was to be used for family burials.  Dionisio Vagnucci also translated the relics of St Herculanus to the high altar of the new Duomo in 1487, an act that marked the completion of the construction period.  The Santo Anello (the Virgin's wedding ring) was translated from the Palazzo dei Priori to the Cappella di Santo Anello in 1488.

Later History

[Indulgence granted by Cardinal Francesco Todeschini Piccolomini, the future Pope Pius III, in 1494?? See inscription in Museo Capitolare]

In 1500, in the aftermath of the “great betrayal” within the Baglioni family, the soldiers of Gianpaolo Baglioni massacred their enemies in the sanctuary of the Duomo.  Gianpaolo was moved to atone by having the Duomo purified with wine.

The Duomo was finally consecrated in 1587, as is recorded by the inscription over the entrance to the sacristy. 

In 1609, Bishop Napoleone Comitoli translated:

  1. the relics of St Herculanus from the Duomo to Sant' Ercolano; and

  2. the relics of “St” Bevignate from San Bevignate to the Duomo (see the page on the interior).

Read more:

E. Lunghi, “La Cattedrale di San Lorenzo”, (1994) Perugia

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