Key to Umbria: Bevagna

This church stands on the site of an ancient oratory that was dedicated to St George, which gave its name to the northeast quarter of Bevagna.  This, in turn, was built above a Roman warehouse

The church was closed in 2016 because of problems with the roof.

Blessed James Bianconi

In 1291 the commune gave the site to the Blessed James Bianconi as reward for his aid to refugees after the Emperor Frederick II sacked Bevagna in 1249.  He rebuilt the church and established an adjacent convent.

SS George and Dominic appeared to the Blessed James as he here died in 1301, in order to reward him for the honour that he had shown to them.  The church still contains two wooden sculptures (see below) that the Blessed James bought in Perugia, much to the disgust of his mother who had given him the money for clothes.  One of these was a crucifix that was said to have covered the Blessed James with blood as he prayed before it. 

The Blessed James died in the convent in 1301 and was interred in the Roman sarcophagus that is now on the counter-façade (to the left of the entrance).

The Dominicans built the present church (and gave it its present dedication) in 1397, probably as part of a bid for the canonisation of the Blessed James.  Pope Boniface IX (1389-1404) granted indulgences to all those who prayed before his relics during the first three days of May, presumably to help pay for this restoration.  (He granted similar indulgences in respect of Peter Crisci of Foligno, despite the fact that neither of these men had been canonised: this may have been part of a programme to secure allegiance to the Roman obedience during the papal schism).

Relics of Blessed James

The sarcophagus in which Blessed James was originally interred is on the counter-facade (to the right of the entrance).

The relics were re-interred in 1589 in a wooden sarcophagus painted by Ascensidonio Spacca, il Fantino, as part of a fresh attempt to secure his beatification.  This sarcophagus is now in the Pinacoteca.

The relics were finally translated to the gilded bronze urn on the high altar in 1686.   The urn was transferred to San Michele in 2016.


The church was re-modeled in 1737, when the façade was moved forward.  Exterior elements from the original construction include:
  1. the present portal (illustrated here), with a fresco of the Madonna and Child with angels in the lunette; and

  2. the portal that is now incorporated into the right wall, together with the aedicule above it. 


The interior is in the form of a single nave with an apse and two apsidal chapels.  It was re-modeled in 1797. 

Frescoes (14th century)

These important fresco fragments in the apse, which were rediscovered in 1920, include:

  1. scenes from the life of St Dominic on the left wall, including:

  2. St Dominic presiding at table, where bread rolls appear miraculously (illustrated above); and

  3. a scene below it involving the burning of (presumably heretical) books; and

  1. the Virgin Annunciate, on the back wall, opposite what was originally a figure of the announcing angel in a similar Gothic aedicule.

Annunciation (15th century)

This damaged fresco fragment to the right of the entrance (above the sarcophagus of the Blessed James Bianconi) is attributed  to Bartolomeo da Miranda.

Altarpieces Attributed to il Fantino (ca. 1600)

The church contains four altarpieces that are attributed to Ascensidonio Spacca, il Fantino:

  1. The Trinity with SS Stephen, Catherine of Alexandria, Dominic, Francis, Clare and Lawrence is in the 5th bay on the right.

  1. The Madonna del Rosario is in the 3rd bay on the right.  A number of Dominican monks and nuns receive rosaries from the Madonna and Child, while below, a bishop and a group of nobles kneel in front of the choir of a church.  The secular group includes two small children and a baby in the arms of its nurse. 

  1. The Madonna di Constantinopoli with SS Charles Borromeo and Catherine of Alexandria is in the 1st bay on the right.

  1. St Hyacinth’s vision of the Madonna and Child is in the 2nd bay on the left.


Miracle of the Crucifix (late 16th century ?)

This relief [where is it ?] probably depicts the Blessed James Bianconi praying before the Crucifix that subsequently spilt blood over him.  It bears the arms of the Antici family and the inscription “PROPER[TIUS] ANTIC[US] PONEN[DUM] CUR[AVIT]”;  this was probably Properzio Antici (died 1596), a doctor whose monument is in the church  [where is it ?].  The relief was probably originally commissioned for the church: it was purchased and returned here after it was recognised in an exhibition in Assisi in 1983.

Miracle of San Domenico in Soriano (ca. 1626)

This altarpiece in the 2nd bay on the right depicts a miracle that occurred in 1530 at the sanctuary of San Domenico in Soriano, Calabria, when the Virgin and SS Mary Magdalene and Catherine of Alexandria appeared to one of the brothers and gave him an image of St Dominic.  Here,
  1. the copy of the miraculous image is attributed to Giovanni Battista Pacetti, lo Sguazzino; and

  2. the surrounding figures of the Virgin and SS Catherine of Alexandria and Mary Magdalene are attributed to Andrea Camassei.

Miracle of the Crucifix (1642)

This damaged altarpiece in the 4th bay on the right is signed by Giovanni Battista Pacetti, lo Sguazzino and dated.   It depicts the miracle of the Crucifix that spilt blood over the Blessed James Bianconi as he prayed before it.  (He also painted this scene among the frescoes that he painted at this time in the cloister - see below).

Art from the Church

Wooden Statues (ca. 1300)


These two statues, which are thought to have been bought by the Blessed James Bianconi in Perugia were moved to the Pinacoteca in 2016:

  1. a figure of the Madonna and Child; and

  2. a wooden Crucifix.  Once, as he prayed before it because he was experiencing doubts about his salvation, blood spurted from the image and he heard Christ saying: “This blood is the sign of your salvation”. 

Both statutes were recorded in the 17th century the Cappella del Crocifisso at SS Domenico e Giacomo, which belonged to the Antici family.

Works by Andrea Camassei

A fresco (1626) of a miracle of St Dominic, which was dated by inscription and attributed to Andrea Camassei, survived in the refectory of the ex-convent until the 1960s.  Three works from the church that are also attributed to him (see below) probably date to the same period:

  1. the frescoed backdrop of the Miracles of San Domenico in Soriano, which survives in situ (above); and 

  2. two panels of SS Joseph and Antony of Padua, which are now in the Pinacoteca (see below).

The Commune paid him for three other altarpieces for the church in 1632, when the process for the canonisation of the Blessed James Bianconi was revived, but these have not survived.

SS Joseph and Antony of Padua (ca. 1626)

These two panels in the Pinacoteca that are attributed to Andrea Camassei, which may have formed part of a polyptych, came from SS Domenico e Giacomo.  They depict: 
  1. St Joseph holding the Virgin’s wedding ring and the staff that flowered in order to identify him as the chosen bridegroom. 

  2. St Antony holding his uncorrupted tongue (a relic venerated in Padua that symbolises his skill as a preacher) and an image of the baby Jesus, whom the Virgin passed to him in a vision.


The cloister (1629-32) to the left of the church leads to the convent, which is now used as a hotel

The inscription above the fountain in the right wall (as you enter) records that the Blessed James turned its water into wine on three occasions.  The damaged fresco depicts the tops of three flasks of wine.

There is a bust of Francesco Torti on the left.

Scenes from the life of the Blessed James Bianconi (1640-1)

These 26 frescoes by Giovanni Battista Pacetti, lo Sguazzino in the cloister celebrated the beatification of the Blessed James Bianconi.  They are now badly damaged and most are illegible.  They include the arms of Bevagna and of the trade guilds that paid for them (tailors and shoemakers; rope makers; masons and bricklayers; and ploughmen).

Frescoes in the ex- Chapter Room (ca. 1350)

These damaged frescoes in the Chapter Room (off the back wall of the cloister( depict:

  1. the Crucifixion with the Virgin and SS John the Evangelist, Dominic and Thomas Aquinas;

  1. the Pietà; and

  1. Blessed James and St Peter Martyr.

Return to Monuments of Bevagna. 

Return to Walk I.

SS Domenico e Giacomo (1397)

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