Key to Umbria: Narni

San Giovenale: Interior

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San Giovenale:  Main page;  Interior;  Sacello di San Cassio;  Chapels;  Frescoes 

The original church is in the form of a Latin cross, with lines of Corinthian columns separating the nave from two aisles.

  1. In 1322, it was decided to rebuild the original apse.  The present polygonal apse was built in Gothic style on part of the church cemetery.    Work was still not complete by 1371, at the time of the publication of the new Libro degli Statuti.

  2. In the 14th century, a fourth aisle was added between the original right wall of the church and the city wall. 


As noted above the apse was completed in ca. 1371.  Traces of frescoes survive in the second of the seven chapels set into its walls, although most of them are obscured by the choir stalls (see the page on the Frescoes in San Giovenale).

Cardinal Berardo Eroli commissioned these inlaid choir stalls in 1474:
  1. the arms of Cardinal Eroli appear under the figure of the Archangel Gabriel at the end on the left; and

  2. the arms of Bishop Carlo Boccardi appear under the Virgin Annunciate at the other end. 

The stalls might have been installed in their present positions, although it is also possible that they were moved here from a location in front of the high altar.


The relics of St Juvenal were rediscovered in the rock behind the Sacello di San Cassio in 1642 and translated by Bishop Gianpaolo Bocciarelli to a new site under the high altar.  This led to the re-modelling of the crossing in the Baroque style in the extended period 1662-1714.  The project received the energetic support of Cardinal Giuseppe Sacriponte in 1710, as part of his campaign for the beatification of the Blessed Lucy of Narni.  The modification of the crossing involved the building of:

  1. a new high altar and baldacchino; and

  2. the twin staircase with marble balustrade, leading down to a new crypt. 

St Juvenal in Glory (17th century)

This panel in the central bay of the apse, directly behind the high altar, is attributed to Girolamo Troppa.


Crypt viewed from the balustrade above

The reliquary containing the relics of St Juvenal, which is under the high altar, can be seen from the balustrade in front of the high altar (as illustrated above) .....

..... and, from the other side, in the crypt below.

Principle Chapels

The page on the Chapels of San Giovenale describes the main chapels of San Giovenale.  Those on the right include:

  1. the Cappella dei Muratori, at the end of the aisle nearest the counter-facade;

  2. the Cappella Vecchia della SS Sacramento, off the 3rd bay of the aisle;

  3. the Cappella della Madonna del Ponte, off the 5th bay of the aisle;

  4. the Cappella della Beata Lucia, in the right transept; and

  5. the Cappella Nuova della SS Sacramento, to the right of the presbytery.

The page also describes the Cappella della Consolazione, off the 5th bay of the left aisle. 

The construction of the new right aisle required the demolition of much of the Sacello di San Cassio: what remains is now behind the marble screen on the right of the fourth bay of the right aisle.

Principal Works of Art

In addition to the works below, see the section above on the presbytery and page on the Frescoes in San Giovenale.

Work from the Oratorio della Compagnia di Sant' Antonio (1475)


                                                  St Juvenal (ca. 1475)                  St Antony Abbot (1475)

                                             attributed to il Vecchietta              signed by il Vecchietta,

                                                                                                            dated by inscription

Two works that are now in the Duomo seem to have belonged originally to the Compagnia di Sant' Antonio:

  1. In 1700, two panels depicting, respectively, SS Juvenal and Cassius, and their gilded surrounds were moved from the chapel below the sacristy, which belonged to the Compagnia di Sant' Antonio, to the main part of the Duomo.  The panel of St Juvenal was documented again during the episcopal visit of 1708, at which point it was in its current location, on the pilaster at the end of the colonnade on the right, opposite what was then the Cappella di Santa Caterina (now the Cappella della Beata Lucia).  However, no mention was made in 1708 of the second panel, and its current location is unknown.

  2. The panel depicts the saint, identified by inscription, standing in a fictive niche, holding a palm in one hand and blessing the viewer with the other.  The palm suggests martyrdom, although there is little in the hagiographic tradition that suggests that he was martyred.  His cassock is rendered in exquisite detail.

  3. It seems likely that the polychrome wooden statue of St Antony Abbot that is now at the end of the left aisle, which was first documented in 1872 in the Cappella Nuova della SS Sacramento, also originally belonged to the Compagnia di Sant' Antonio.  It has the following inscription:


(the work of Lorenzi di Pietro, il Vecchietta of Siena, 1475)

Scholars also attribute the panel of St Juvenal to il Vecchietta, and suggest that Cardinal Berardo Eroli arranged for him to work in Narni in the period around 1475.  It is possible that the statue of St Antony Abbot was originally flanked by the panels of SS Juvenal and Cassius in a single triptych.

Pulpits (1490)

The sandstone pulpits at the end of the nave have interesting reliefs, depicting:

  1. the Madonna and Child, flanked by SS Juvenal and Cassius (on the left); and

  2. St James, flanked by SS Peter and Paul (on the right).

SCrucifix (15th century)

This painted wooden Crucifix, which is in a niche in the left aisle, might have come originally from Sant’ Agostino: a panel (15th century) of four standing saints, which probably originally formed its backdrop, survives on the right wall of this church.  The arms of the figure of Christ are moveable, which suggests that it was removed from the cross and taken in procession during the Easter commemorations.

St Lucy (15th century)

This fresco, which is by a follower of Pier Matteo d' Amelia, is at the end of the left aisle near the apse (behind the statue of St Antony Abbot). 

Frescoes (1517)


The frescoes in the niche on the left of the right aisle, to the right of the apse, [which are dated by inscription?], depict the Madonna and Child with:

  1. God the Father above; and

  2. SS Anselm and Mark to the sides

The figure of the Madonna and Child is attributed to Bartolomeo Torresani, but the other figures seem to be by a different artist.

Consignment of the Keys (1560)

This altarpiece, which depicts Christ consigning the keys to St Peter  is on the Altare di San Pietro (2nd on the left).  It is signed by Livio Agresti and dated by inscription

Funerary Monuments

Monument to Pietro Cesi (ca. 1480)

This monument, which is by a follower of Bernardo Rossellino, is in the left aisle.  Pietro Cesi was a celebrated jurist who was appointed Senator of Rome in 1468 and again in the year of his death, 1477.   The three important branches of the Cesi family originated with three of his sons:
  1. Bartolomeo;

  2. Pierdonato; and

  3. Angelo (1450-1528).

The sculptural composition includes:

  1. reliefs of the crucified Christ between the Virgin and St John the Evangelist in the lunette;

  2. a fine marble effigy on the sarcophagus; and

  3. putti holding shields bearing the Cesi arms, to the sides of the epitaph. 

The damaged fresco in the lunette, which depicts the Madonna and Child with angels, is the autograph work of the so-called Maestro della Tomba Cesi

Tomb of Bishop Carlo Boccardi (died 1498)

This damaged tomb is on the left wall of the 2nd chapel on the right.  (Bishop Boccardi commissioned the portico on the facade of the church, and his arms can still be seen above it). 

Monument to Bishop Erolo Eroli (ca. 1600)

This monument in the left aisle, just before the entrance to the Cappella della Consolazione, commemorates Bishop Erolo Eroli, who died in 1600.  It was commissioned by his niece, Paola Eroli, and her husband, Giovanni Battista Cardoli.

The monument contains an interesting portrait of the deceased as a relatively young man.   It probably dates to about the time of his appointment as Bishop of Narni, in 1578.