Sacello di San Cassio (9th century)
All that remains of this shrine is now in the
4th bay of the "new" right aisle. The original back wall can be seen above the marble screen. It was built against the Roman
city wall, traces of which can be seen high up to the left. Part of the originally subterranean crypt survives behind the screen, but the rest of the shrine was probably demolished in the 14th century when this "new" aisle was built: until that point, it had probably been reached via an entrance in the
original right aisle. The arch in this bay in the colonade between the 3rd and 4th aisles, which is larger than the others, probably stands on the site of the original entrance.
According to tradition, St Maximus (died 416), Bishop of Narni built the first oratory here over the grave of his precessor, St Juvenal in ca. 376. This oratory was used for St Maximus' own burial and that of later bishops,
including St Cassius (died 558) and his wife Fausta. Adalbert, Margrave of Tuscany
effectively destroyed it in 878, when he stole the
relics of SS Juvenal and Cassius . When the relics were returned in 88o, those of St Juvenal were
hidden, while those of St Cassius were displayed in a new (or much
restored) shrine that became known as the Sacello di San Cassio. (Sacellum is the Latin word for shrine).
The pictorial decoration of the back wall was re-discovered under plaster
in 1953. The mosaic of the Redeemer might be original (albeit much
Back wall and crypt of the Sacello
two female saints to the right of the mosaic;
three male saints to the left; and
scenes from the life of St Juvenal below.
The lower frescoes are now obscured by the screen.
The chapel behind the screen has been formed from the crypt of the
9th century shrine. Inscriptions on the left wall commemorate the
burial (or reburial) here of Bishop Pancrazio II (470-93), the son of Bishop Pancrazio I (416-55) and brother of Bishop Ercole
(455-70). The rest of this chapel has been
radically modified over the centuries:
The relics of St Cassius were translated to the current the altar in 1679.
The altarpiece has been composed of a number of 15th century fragments.
The pavement was probably executed in the 17th century using much older fragments.
Steps on the left, behind the altar, lead down to a chamber cut out of the
rock in which the relics of St Juvenal were hidden from 880 (when they
were returned from the church of San Frediano
in Lucca) until 1642, when they were rediscovered and moved to the
presbytery. The empty sandstone sarcophagus (9th century) remains in
The screen across the entrance to the shrine was constructed in the early 16th century. The inscription on the architrave above the entrance records that Bishop Pietro Gormaz (1499-1515) commissioned the present arrangement. The screen contains a number of interesting objects:
The relief (6th century) of two lambs and a Cross contains an inscription that is dated 18 years after the Byzantine Consul Basil (i.e. ca. 558). In it, St Cassius commemorates his wife Fausta, who had pre-deceased him. The relief, which probably came from their monument in the Sacello, was moved here in 1678.
Other architectural fragments embedded in the screen also came from an older structure, perhaps the original apse of the Duomo that was demolished in 1322.
The wooden statues in niches depict: St Juvenal (early 14th century) on the left; and the Pietà (15th century) on the right. The panel (16th century) above depicts St Cassius.