Key to Umbria: Spoleto

San Giacomo di Spoleto (13th century)

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This church and the adjacent hospice for pilgrims stand on the Via Spina, which was an old pilgrim route from Rome to Compostella. 

It stands outside the fortified town of San Giacomo di Spoleto, outside its main gate.

The earliest record of the complex dates to 1291, when the church became a parish church and the hospice was put under the control of the nuns of Santa Maria della Stella

The church was re-modelled in the 16th century.


Frescoes in the apse (1526) 

Surviving documents record that some thirty inhabitants of San Giacomo contributed towards the payment for these frescoes by Giovanni di Pietro, lo Spagna, which are dated by inscription.

  1. St James is depicted at the centre, holding a book and the staff of a pilgrim.

  1. The scenes to each side depict two episodes in a legend of a couple that was making a pilgrimage to Compostela with their young son.  He was unjustly accused of theft and condemned to hang, after which they continued sadly on their way.

  2. In the scene on the left, the couple return to the scene of the execution to find their son still alive, prevented from hanging by St .

  1. In the scene on the right, they report the miracle to the incredulous judge, who looks up from his dinner to say that their son is dead as the roast chickens that he is about to eat.  The chickens in question immediately come back to life.

  1. [These two scenes are also depicted in frescoes by Mezzastris in the Oratorio dei Pelligrini and in the stained glass (1511) designed by Mariotto di Nardo at San Domenico, Perugia.]

  2. The fresco in the vault depicts the Coronation of the Virgin with saints and angels.  This scene is inspired by the fresco (1469) on the same subject by Fillippo Lippi in the apse of the Duomo, Spoleto.

  1. The frescoes on the triumphal arch depict:

  2. the figures of the Annunciation in tondi (above);

  3. St Lucy (on the left); and

  4. St Apollonia  (on the right).

Madonna and Child with saints (1527)

This fresco in the Cappella di San Sebastiano, to the left of the apse, was probably the last work of Giovanni di Pietro, lo Spagna.  It depicts the Madonna and Child with a martyred pope and SS Sebastian and Roch.

Madonna and Child with saints (1530)

This damaged fresco in the Cappella di Sant’ Antonio Abate, to the right of the apse, was completed by Dono Doni and Cecco di Bernardino d’ Assisi after the death of lo Spagna.  It depicts the Madonna and Child with SS Peter, Antony Abbot and Bartholomew. 

Madonna del Rosario (ca. 1570)

This fresco [where] was documented in 1625 as the work of “Henrico Fiamengo”, who was almost certainly the Flemish artist usually known in Italy as Arrigo Fiammingo.  It depicts the Madonna and Child in glory, with SS Dominic and Francis below.  The Madonna hands a rosary to St Dominic, who is surrounded by male members of a confraternity, presumably the Confraternita del Rosario.  St Francis is surrounded by a group of ladies, who were presumably their female relatives.   St Dominic holds a model of a domed church. 

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