Key to Umbria: Perugia

An earlier church on this site dedicated to the Roman martyr St Agatha was documented in a diploma (1163) of the Emperor Frederick I.  The Commune rebuilt and re-dedicated it when the old church of San Severo was demolished to make way for an extension of Palazzo dei Priori.  The church was used in the Middle Ages for the burial of prisoners who died while in custody in the Palazzo dei Priori.

The façade preserves a fine Gothic portal and small rose window. 

The church was closed for restoration during my last visit (January 2013).


The interior was restored in 1911, when a number of interesting frescoes (see below) were uncovered. 

The high altar (ca. 1450) was moved here from the Oratorio di San Bernardino in 1932.

Crucifixion (1319-33)

This important fresco on the wall behind the high altar,which seems to have been inspired by the works of Pietro Lorenzetti in the lower church of San Francesco, Assisi, was rediscovered in 1911.  It was originally part of a larger work that was largely destroyed when a Baroque altar was installed. 

In the fresco, Longinus pierces Christ with the lance while angels collect the blood from His wounds.  The Virgin and St John the Evangelist stand to the left, while soldiers to the right argue over Christ’s possessions.

Frescoes (14th century)

The frescoes on the left wall are mostly individual votive images, but those at the top probably formed part of a more extensive cycle.  They depict:
  1. the election of St Severus as bishop of Ravenna (at the top);

  2. St Severus performing a miracle in the Cathedral of Ravenna (below to the left ); and

  3. the death of St Blaise, to the right.

Trinity (early 15th century)

This extraordinary detached fresco is on the right wall, near the counter-façade.  It depicts Christ enthroned, but He has three faces, one looking forward and two looking to the sides.  The fresco probably dates to shortly before the Council of Constance (1414), when the doctrine of the Trinity was clarified and this iconography was suppressed.

Return to Monuments of Perugia

Return to Walk III.


SS Severo e Agata (1317)

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