Key to Umbria: Perugia

Sant' Antonio Abate

(15th century, remodelled in 1654)

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This church, which was first documented in a diploma of the Emperor Frederick I in 1163, was recorded as a parish church in 1285. 

The church seems to have been rebuilt in the 15th century, when it passed to the Canons Regular of St Antony of Vienne (the name given to St Antony Abbot after his relics were taken to Vienne in 960).   This order was dedicated to the care of the sick, and they acquired adjacent properties for their priory and an associated hospice.   Subsidies from the Commune for the restoration of the church are recorded in 1446 and 1455.  The date of the canons’ departure is unknown. 

The Confraternita di San Giovanni Battista had an altar in the church from its formation in ca. 1570 until 1634, when it moved to its own oratory, the nearby Oratorio di San Giovanni Battista.  From this point, the consecrated Host was taken in procession each year on the feast of St John the Baptist (24th June) from their oratory to Santa Maria Nuova and Sant’ Antonio Abate.

A community of Olivetan monks moved here in 1624 when their monastery of San Secondo on the Isola Polvese became uninhabitable because of malaria.  They remodelled the church in 1654.

A female confraternity known as the Compagnia della Sorelle Spedaliere, which was documented as looking after the nearby hospice of the Oratorio di Sant’ Antonio Abate in the 15th century, was suppressed in 1697 at the request of the Olivetans of Sant’ Antonio Abate.

In 1740, the Olivetans from Sant’ Antonio Abate (and those from Monte Morcino) moved to the new monastery of Montemorcino Nuovo.  The monastery was then adapted for residential use.

The church is open to visitors on Sundays.  It is also open during the celebrations associated with the feast of St Antony Abbot (17th January), which include the traditional blessing of domestic animals.


The side of the church is illustrated above, with its campanile to the left. A truncated Roman column with a stone pig (15th century) that is the symbol of St Antony Abbot can be seen below (to the left of the tree in the photograph above).


   Arms of the [Antonine Canons ??]                                                            Arms of the Olivetans

          (above the left portal)                                                                         (above the right portal)   

These interesting arms can be seen above the portals further along  Corso Bersaglieri.


The entrance to the church is reached from the small courtyard at at number 101.
  1. The facade of the church on the left is behind the loggia (18th century) at right angles to the road.  This ruined fresco of the Madonna and Child enthroned is under the loggia, to the right.

  2. The columns (15th century)  of the closed arches opposite probably formed part of a cloister. 


The original church occupied what is now the 1st bay of the church, with its apse to the left.  The Olivetans greatly extended it by building the present nave and apse.

The organ (1655) on the counter-facade, which is the oldest in Perugia, has recently been restored.

St Antony Abbot enthroned (14th century)

This polychrome wooden statue in the crossing was traditionally taken in procession during the feast of St Antony Abbot.  It is now (2013) the subject of a restoration appeal.

God the Father (16th century)

This pained lunette is on the right of the crossing.  [Details ??]

Angels above Lake Trasimeno (1947)


These two frescoes to the sides of the high altar are by Gerardo Dottori.

St Antony Abbot (ca. 1650)

This altarpiece on the altar on the left wall is by Paolo Gismondi

Altarpiece (17th century)

This altarpiece on the altar on the right wall is by Benedetto Bandiera.  It depicts the coronation of a female saint (probably St Francesca Romana).

Art from the Church

Altarpiece of the Nativity (ca. 1510)

The lay sisters of the Compagnia di Nostra Donna commissioned this altarpiece from Giovanni di Pietro, lo Spagna for their altar the church.  However, lo Spagna completed only the central panel, and the sisters commissioned the lunette and predella from Mariano di Ser Austerio in 1510. 

The Olivetans took the altarpiece to Montemorcino Nuovo in 1740 and it subsequently passed to the Accademia di Belle Arti.

  1. The main panel, which depicts the Nativity, was given to the Joseph Marie de Gérando, a French administrator in Rome.  His heirs subsequently sold it to the Musée du Louvre, Paris.

  2. The lunette, which depicts God the Father and four angels, is now in the deposit of the Galleria Nazionale.

  3. So too are the predella panels, which depict:

  4. the Madonna della Misericordia protecting the lay sisters under her cloak, at the centre; and

  5. St Antony Abbot and another male saint, to the sides.

Madonna and Child with saints (1524)

This altarpiece, which is signed by Sinibaldo Ibi and dated by inscription, was commissioned for the Olivetan monastery of San Secondo on the Isola Polvese.  The monks took it with them when they moved to Sant’ Antonio Abate in 1624 and to Montemorcino Nuovo in 1740.  Agostino Tofanelli  moved it to the Musei Capitolini, Rome in 1812, but it was returned to Montemorcino Nuovo in 1815.  When Montemorcino Nuovo passed to the University of Perugia in 1822, the altarpiece was sent to the Olivetans’ mother house, Santa Francesca Romana, Rome.

Altarpiece of the Olivetans (1533)

The recently-discovered inscription records that Andrea di Narduccio gave this altarpiece to “the brothers” (i.e. the Olivetan monks of San Secondo, Isole Polvese del Trasimeno) in 1533.  It is attributed to Bernardino di Mariotto.  The monks brought it with them when they abandoned San Secondo in 1624.  It was recorded here in the 19th century, but it seems to have passed to the Camaldolesian church of San Severo before its entry into the Galleria Nazionale in 1863.  It is now in the deposit of the Galleria Nazionale.

The altarpiece depicts the Madonna and Child enthroned with SS Andrew (the name saint of the donor) and Julian.  According to a late tradition, the latter is a portrait of Gianpaolo Baglioni.

Blessed Bernard Ptolomei receiving Olivetan Rule (ca. 1675)

This altarpiece  by Giovanni Andrea Carlone, il Genovese depicts the Blessed Bernard Ptolomei receiving the habit and rule of the Olivetans from the Bishop of Arezzo, an event that happened in 1329 at the behest of Pope John XXII.  The altarpiece was originally in the sacristy.  The Olivetans took the altarpiece to Montemorcino Nuovo in 1740.  [When Montemorcino Nuovo passed to the University of Perugia in 1822, the altarpiece was sent to the Olivetans’ mother house, Santa Francesca Romana, Rome.]

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