Key to Umbria: Spello

Santa Barbara (1571)

The local historian Fausto Gentile Donnola, writing in ca. 1621, noted that the Commune gaave a tower of the old Cassero del Pianello next to Porta Montanara to the Confraternita di Santa Barbara in 1562.  They built this church, which incorporates the foundations of the tower in its apse.  The church was consecrated by Pietro Ambrosini, the Prior of San Lorenzo.

An inscription from the church, which commemorated the Emperor Augustus (27 BC - 14 AD) and which is now embedded in what remains of the Arco di Augusto, probably related to the construction of the nearby aqueduct.

Sant’ Ercolano (11th century)

According to tradition, a church was built here in 560 in honour of St Herculanus, Bishop of Perugia, which Pope Pelagius I (556-61) granted to the canons of San Giovanni in Laterano in Rome.  It was built on the foundations of a Roman wall in opus vittatum (construction in strips of bicoloured stone) and has a cross vault, perhaps of the end of the 12th century.

[The 8th century portal to this church survives in Via Giulia ??]

The present building was deconsecrated in 1453 when part of it was demolished to make way for the sacristy of San Lorenzo.  

Relief (8th or 9th century)

This relief in the facade of San Lorenzo over the left hand entrance possibly came from Sant’ Ercolano.

San Gregorio Magno (1573)

Two doors (to the right in this photograph) open on the façade of this church: the two doors to the left belong to the adjacent Oratorio della Morte.

The church has a rectangular plan. 

Madonna and Child with angels and saints (1587)

This altarpiece by Pierino Cesarei da Perugia, which depicts the Madonna and Child with SS Gregory and Joseph, is on the high altar.  The arms suggest that the Diamanti family commissioned it.

Annunciation (1591)

This altarpiece on the Altare di San Michele on the right wall, which is dated by inscription, is attributed to Ascensidonio Spacca, il Fantino.

San Martino (12th century)

According to tradition, the local inhabitants built this church themselves.  It is first documented in 1333, when it was dependent upon San Lorenzo.  By 1561, it belonged to St Peters’, Rome and in 1870 it passed to the Congregazione di Carità.  It is now deconsecrated and used for exhibitions.

The church is in the form of a long trapezium with three crossing arches, which terminates in a semicircular apse.  It was remodelled in the Baroque style in the 17th century, but was restored to its original form in 1968.  The façade preserves its original portal and a bifore window above.  Inside, the high altar was recomposed from original fragments in 1971, but almost all of the original fresco decoration has been destroyed.

San Rufino (ca. 1178) and San Filippo (ca. 1610)

The first church on this site, which was dedicated to San Rufino, was documented in 1178 as dependent on the Abbazia di San Silvestro.  It passed to Santa Maria Maggiore in 1564.  It was all but destroyed in 1610, when the level of the piazza in front of it was raised, although the remnants of its walls [can be seen in two present buildings, the Scuola Media "Galileo Ferraris" (at number 6) and the public baths]. 

The Confraternita di San Rocco built a new church above San Rufino in ca. 1610.  It was given to the Oratorian Fathers when they arrived in Spello in 1640, and they dedicated it to their founder, St Philip Neri.  It then passed in succession to:

  1. the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorist Fathers) in 1772: this congregation had been formed in 1732 by St Alphonsus Liguori;

  2. the Seminario San Felice in 1820, at the instigation of Pope Pius VII;

  3. the Ursuline sisters from Santa Chiara  in 1822;

  4. the Congregation of the Most Precious Blood in 1834: Pius VII had formed this congregation in 1814, after his return to Rome from exile; and

  5. the Congregazione di Carità di Spello in 1860, after the unification of Italy.

The façade of this church survives, although the interior has been adapted to its current use as the Post Office.

San Sisto (13th century)

This church, which was documented in 1360 and 1380, was used by the Confraternita di Sant’ Anna.  It was demolished in the 16th century, but the remains of its facade survive at number 1, Via Borgo San Sisto.

San Venanzio (12th century)

This church, which was documented in the 12th century as a possession of the Abbazia di Sassovivo, Foligno in the 12th century, was demolished in the 19th century.   The Edicola di San Venanzio marks its site.

The aedicule contains a fresco (1853) by Mariano Piervittori (as recorded in the inscription below), which depicts the Virgin in glory with SS Felix and Venantius, with the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove above.  (This St Venantius is probably the saint martyred in Camerino in the reign of the Emperor Decius).

Return to Monuments of Spello. 

Return to Walk I or Walk II (Santa Barbara).

Small Churches in Spello

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