Interior of the Duomo
Little survives inside the Duomo to bear witness to its ancient history:
- Its nave corresponds to the fabric built in 1133. It originally took the form of a nave and two aisles and culminated in a set of steps that led to a semi-circular apse that was built over a crypt formed by the first church on the site.
- Its left transept corresponds to the extension to the church that was built in 1201, which similarly took the form of a nave and two aisles.
The church assumed its current appearance over a long period of time:
The apse was rebuilt in 1457-62. Its floor was lowered to the level of that of the nave, at the expense of the crypt below.
The right transept was built in 1513, at which point the church took on its current Latin cross configuration. The columns in the nave and left transept were removed at this time, the side doors were closed and the ceiling was re-vaulted.
The cupola was added in 1543-8, perhaps at the behest of the papal legate, Cardinal Tiberio Crispo.
The marble double staircase (1700) was installed n front of the apse to provide access the Cappella delle Reliquie in front of the ancient crypt. This was presumably to house the returned relics of St Felician along with those of St Messalina.
The Duomo was badly damaged in the earthquake of 1703. The programme of re-modeling the apse began in 1703 under Sebastiano Cipriani, and its decoration was carried out in 1719-23.
The restoration of the rest of the church began under Luigi Vanvitelli in 1754.
Vanvitelli's pupil, Giuseppe Piermarini (who came from Foligno) took over the project in 1772 and modified the design in the neo-classical style. He initially supervised the work from Milan but returned to live in Foligno from 1798 until his death in 1808. The project was completed in 1819.
As part of this work, a false wall was built in the left transept in order to create a symmetrical floor plan, leaving a trapezoid space in front of the counter-façade that was divided to form an atrium and a small chapel.
The twelve-sided baptistery is immediately to the
left of the main entrance. The font is arranged to allow full immersion,
and it incorporates a column (10th century) from Santa Maria Assunta in
Baptism of Jesus (1826-34)
The Cathedral Chapter commissioned this altarpiece on the 1st altar on the left from Giovan Battista Wicar. The Beradi arms appear at the bottom of the canvas, probably in commemoration of the prior, Feliciano Berardi.
Wicar, who was already old and in poor health when he received the commission, died before the work was completed. It was finished in Rome by his pupil, Decio Trabalza (who was born in Foligno) and received with great enthusiasm in Foligno in 1835.
The altarpiece was damaged in the
bombing of 1944 and subsequently restored.
Entrance to the Campanile
The next door in the left wall leads to the campanile and the Cella di San Pietro Crisci [closed for restoration].
Feliciano liberates Foligno from the plague (1789-91)
Bishop Filippo Trenta commissioned this altarpiece from Gaetano Gandolfi for the high altar. Unfortunately, it was damaged in the
bombing of 1944 and has been largely repainted. (A preparatory study survives in the Palazzo Barberini, Rome.)
Pulpit [date ??]
The pulpit on the last pilaster on the left before the crossing has a gilded relief of the Assumption of the Virgin.
Cappella Jacobili (1525-7)
The lozenge-shaped chapel off the right wall of the left transept is attributed to Antonio da Sangallo the Younger. (Antonio was in documented in Foligno in 1525, when he requested and was granted citizenship.)
The urn on the altar contains the relics of the Blessed Peter Crisci.
The frescoes (early 17th century) by Vespasiano Strada depict two scenes from the martyrdon of St Felician.
- An inscription from the monument of Giovanni Battista Vitelli is on the left. He was the founder of the Oratorio del Buon Gesù (see Walk I): the inscription was moved here after the oratory was destroyed by bombing in the Second World War.
As noted above, the apse was rebuilt in 1457-62. The marble double staircase (1700) leads down to the Cappella delle Reliquie in front of the ancient crypt. Unfortunately, following earthquake damage in 1997, the chapel and crypt cannot be visited.
Copy (18th century) of the Madonna di Foligno (ca. 1511)
A copy of the Madonna di Foligno by Raphael hangs on the back wall of the apse. Sigismondo de' Conti (or de Comitibus), the
Chamberlain to Pope Julius II, commissioned this altarpiece from
Raphael for the high altar of Santa Maria in Aracoeli, Rome. He died
soon after and was buried in the apse of that church. In 1565, Sigismodo's niece,
Anna de' Conti arranged for the altarpiece to be transferred to the Monastero di Sant' Anna,in Sigismondo's native Foligno.
The nuns resisted a series of offers to buy the painting over the centuries. It
is surprising that the French did not earmark it for
confiscation under the Treaty of Tolentino (1797). However, Napoleon's commissioner, Jean-Antoine Gros soon added it to the list, and the vociferous objections of the people of Foligno were to no avail.
recovered it in 1815 and it was returned to Rome. However, it became the subject of a dispute
between the nuns of Sant' Anna and the canons of the Duomo.
The nuns therefore decided to sell it to Pope Pius VII. It is now in the Pinacoteca Vaticana, Rome illustrated in the Vatican website.
The altarpiece depicts the Madonna and Child seated on a cloud in front of the sun; this may be a reference to the "woman clothed by the sun" in Revelations 12:1.
St Jerome commends the kneeling donor to the Virgin. Giorgio Vasari commented that the portrait of the donor was "as lifelike as any ever painted".
The kneeling St Francis commends the viewer to the baby Jesus.
St John the Baptist draws the viewer's attention to this apparition.
scene is set before a cityscape of Foligno. Sigismondo is thought to have commissioned the work in
thanks for the survival of his house in the city after it had been
struck by a ball of lightening, and this event seems to be depicted here. The
small angel in the centre of the composition holds a plaque that was probably intended originally to bear an inscription.
gilded wooden baldachin over the high altar is by Antonio Calcioni. It is a replica of the bronze
baldachin by Gianlorenzo Bernini in St Peter's in Rome.
The Roscioli family seem to have financed the baldachin, and the family arms appear at the base of the columns. (Bartolomeo Roscioli (died 1637) had been secretary to Pope Urban VIII (Maffeo Barberini) and received the right to use the Barberini bees on the family arms).
[Reference the busts of Bartolomeo and Diana Roscioli (ca. 1635-40) by Gianlorenzo Bernini the new Museo Capitolare]
frescoes by Francesco Mancini include St Felician in glory (in the vault) and the St Felician
entrusting Foligno to religion (in the lunette of the apse - illustrated here). In the
latter fresco, Religion takes the form of a figure in white holding the
Cross, while St Michael below spears the devil.
St Felician enthroned (1732-3)
life-sized silver-gilded bronze statue is visible only on the saint’s feast day (24th
January), when it is paraded through the city. It is otherwise kept in
the small chapel to the right of the presbytery.
- The throne (1703-13) was made in Rome by the German Adolf Gaap. Some parts of it had to be replaced after a
theft in 1982. The relief on the back, which depicts the martyrdom of
the saint, are particularly fine.
- The figure of the saint
was made in Rome to a design by Giovanni Battista Maini and arrived in Foligno in 1733. The wooden
modello is displayed in Palazzo Trinci.
The sacristy off the left wall of the right transept was rebuilt in 1512-21.
Cappella del SS Sacramento
This chapel off the right aisle is used for services on weekdays.
[Details of altar ??]
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