Key to Umbria: Bevagna

This church is probably dedicated to Pope Sylvester I (314-35) who reigned during the time of the Emperor Constantine (306-37).  An unreliable legend credits him with the Emperor’s conversion and baptism, and he was claimed to be the recipient of the (forged) Donation of Constantine.

An inscription on the side of the main portal of this church commemorates its foundation: “in the year of the Lord 1195, Emperor Henry (VI) reigning, the prior Diotisalvi and his brethren, and the master Binellus live in Christ.  Amen.”  This is the earliest known work by Binellus, pre-dating his period of collaboration with Rodulfus on San Michele across the Piazza.  (He has also been linked to the work on portal of the north façade of the Duomo of Foligno, which was dated 1201.). 


The lower part of the façade is built of travertine blocks, and contains the ornate main portal.  The portal mentioned above has an archivolt with rich foliate decoration and a frieze of complex symbolism: on the left is a mountain (Christ), from which four streams issue (the Gospels); a luxuriant vine grows out of the mountain, covered with grapes and leaves (the Church) among which a number of animals hide (the faithful); on the right is a dragon that vomits a river from its mouth (the devil). 

The upper part of the façade, which is made from the pink and white stone from nearby Mount Subasio, is crowned with a moulding with sculpted animal heads.  It has a three-light window in the centre that incorporates four double columns from an earlier structure.  The bifore windows on each side have twisted central columns with bases made from upside-down capitals. 

A campanile that was evidently planned on the right (like that of San Giuliano, Spoleto) was never completed.


The church’s present appearance is the result of the restoration done in 1953-4. 

The interior is in the form of a nave and two aisles separated by arcades of fine Corinthian columns, a raised presbytery above the crypt and a semi-circular apse.  The nave is barrel-vaulted, and the aisles have flying arch vaults, an unusual arrangement that is also found in San Giovenale, Orvieto

Madonna di Loreto with saints (1462)

This damaged fresco on the left of the presbytery is by an artist who probably came from Foligno.  It depicts the Madonna with SS Nicholas of Tolentino, Augustine, Catherine of Alexandria and Nicholas of Bari.

St Sebastian (15th century)

This damaged fresco is on the first pillar on the right.

St Sylvestor (16th century)

This fresco is on the right wall.


Stairs to the left of the nave lead down to the crypt, which is in the form of three by two cross-vaulted units with two supporting columns.

Return to Monuments of Bevagna. 

Return to Walk I.

San Silvestro (1195)

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