Key to Umbria: Spoleto

Eremo di Santa Maria delle Grazie (1727-8)

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The ancient hermitage here grew in importance after 1502, when the Benedictines left San Giuliano.  In 1547, Bishop Fabio Vigili organised the remaining hermits on Monteluco as the Congregazione dei Padri Eremiti di Monteluco with their activities centred on the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie.   The cells of the monks were arranged along a corridor around the adjacent wood.

Cardinal Camillo Cibo built the current church on the site of its predecessor in 1727-8. 

The congregation was suppressed in 1798 and again, this time definitively, in 1860.  Its property subsequently passed to the Congregazione di Carità.

The complex now houses the Residenzia Eremo delle Grazie.

Interior of the Church

In 1556, Michelangelo stayed near Santa Maria delle Grazie and wrote of having experienced "great pleasure in the mountains of Spoleto visiting those hermits, because only in the wood is there peace".  There is a replica of his Pietà on the high altar.

Art from the Church

Triptych (15th century)

This triptych was first recorded in 1733 in an inventory of the new church.  At that point, the panels, which were on the high altar were described as:
  1. Santa Maria delle Grazie, which must have referred to the image of the Madonna and Child enthroned on the left;

  2. Santa Maria dell’ Assunta, which must have referred to the image of the standing Virgin crowned by angels at the centre; and

  3. St John the Baptist.

They are attributed on stylistic grounds to Nicolò di Liberatore, l' AlunnoScholars recognise a probable contribution by Ugolino di Gisberto, who was documented as an apprentice in the workshop of Nicolò di Liberatore in 1458.   

The original location of the panels is unknown: they could have come from San Giuliano or from the earlier hermitage on this site.  They passed to the Congregazione di Carità in ca. 1860 and entered the Pinacoteca Comunale in 1921.  They are now in Room 14 of the Museo del Ducato di Spoleto.

Return to Monuments of Spoleto.

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