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mail: Bill Thayer 
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A Walk around the Abbey Church
of S. Michele di Limigiano


[image ALT: A rather plain small 2‑story stone building with a narrow door and above it two small windows. It is connected to some other building by an archway over a street. It is a view of the façade church of S. Michele in Limigiano, Umbria (central Italy).]
The Umbrian hamlet of Limigiano, a frazione of Bevagna, was once the seat of a fairly important abbey, recorded in the mid‑11c as belonging to the monastery of S. Pietro in Perugia, and in the 14c to the powerful abbey of Sassovivo near Foligno. The church has survived, but not much of the conventual buildings. Church and abbey were dedicated to the same saint — the archangel Michael — but are often referred to by different names: S. Michele for the church, S. Angelo for the abbey; and in central Italy buildings honoring the archangel quite commonly run by either name.

The church itself, then, shows several phases of construction and repair, and is as good an illustration as any of Thayer's Axiom: the larger the stones, the older the stonework. Here you see the largest stones — for the most part not sandstone like the rest of the building, but assorted limestones — in the foreground, at the base of the façade: if these stones are not all the remains of an actual predecessor building from classical Antiquity on this spot, at least some of them almost certainly are Roman. (Scale: that blue pen is exactly 14 cm long).

High up on the façade, similarly salvaged — no point in throwing away good stone — a very old fragment of carving, probably from the first church on this spot:

[image ALT: A primitive stone carving of the upper half of two men, possibly emerging from a body of water. It is a detail of the church of S. Michele in Limigiano, Umbria (central Italy).]
Baptism of Jesus?? Probably 11c.

Walking thru the archway and around the corner,

[image ALT: The side of a small stone church. It is a view of the S side of the church of S. Michele in Limigiano, Umbria (central Italy).]

The S flank of the church: notice that the nave of the church seems to have been felt worthy of more sustained maintenance, in which the soft erodable sandstone blocks have been protected by mortar, making also for a smoother wall.


[image ALT: Part of a small two-story church of rough stone masonry, seen from the rear, with a few meters of lawn in front of it; on the right side there is a square belfry one story taller. It is a partial view of the apse of the church of S. Michele in Limigiano, Umbria (central Italy).]
The upper story of the belfry could date to anytime between the 16th century and the 20th.

[image ALT: A building comprising a section on the right with a roof sloping at about 30 degrees, a 3‑story square tower on the left (a church belfry), and a long low rectangular section joining them. In front of the building, a sheet metal shed and a much more primitive shed, four wooden posts with a sheet metal roof, containing agricultural equipment. It is a view of the remains of the conventual buildings of the abbey of S. Michele in Limigiano, Umbria (central Italy).]
Today as in the Middle Ages,
the conventual buildings on the N side of the church are more utilitarian.


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Page updated: 28 Jul 04