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S. Maria in Pantano: the Interior


[image ALT: zzz. It is a view of the interior of the abbey church of S. Maria in Pantano, Umbria (central Italy).]

The only time I've found this church open was the first time I saw it, in October of 1997. Endangered by the earthquakes of March and September of that year, it was undergoing restoration: workmen were busy and the church doors were open. Now it has been restored, and is therefore, like most isolated rural churches, closed. Many such churches are freely visitable if you find out whom to ask for the key: by temperament, I just usually won't bring myself to do that — but it doesn't mean you can't.

The restoration, the unusually cold weather affecting my camera batteries, my own poor camera technique including absent-mindedness in removing a lens filter combine to make this page not much more than a scrapbook; it wasn't one of my better days. Still, there seem to be very few photos of the interior of the church online, so this will be helpful to some.

The fabric of the church itself is fairly primitive, as can be seen from the capitals, among which this one is typical:

[image ALT: zzz. It is a column capital in the medieval church of S. Maria in Pantano near Massa Martana, Umbria (central Italy).]

The Inscription in honor of Severinia Afra (CIL XI.4751)

The main altar is supported by a Roman honorary inscription:

[image ALT: zzz. It is a view of the Severinia Afra inscription in the church of S. Maria in Pantano near Massa Martana, Umbria (central Italy).]
		
[image ALT: zzz. It is a view of Severinia Afra inscription in the church of S. Maria in Pantano near Massa Martana, Umbria (central Italy).]
		
[image ALT: zzz. It is a view of Severinia Afra inscription in the church of S. Maria in Pantano near Massa Martana, Umbria (central Italy).]

The central inscription is flanked, as very frequently, by the two Roman sacrificial implements, an urceus on the left, a patera on the right.

(A click on each photo opens it larger in a separate window)

My photo of the inscription is not good enough to be fully readable (although enough to correct the wrong partial transcription of it in AJP 111:512, which calls the honoree Severina — an admittedly more likely name mind you, and probably what our carver, who wasn't fully literate, should have written); my own transcription, made on the spot, follows:

SEVERINIAEº · C
FILIAE
AFRAE Honestae Mulieri
CONIVGI · PERPETVINI
AVSPICIS · OB MERITA
MARYTIº · EIVS · VICANI VICI
MARTIS · TVDERTINAEº · AERE
COLLATO EXIMIA BENE(-)
FICIA EIVS ERGA · SE
MERENTI POSVERVNT
Loco · Dato · Decreto · Decurionum

In honor of Severinia Afra, daughter of Gaius, wife of Perpetuinus Auspex, a good woman. In recognition of the merits of her husband, the inhabitants of Vicus Martis Tudertina (sic), having taken up a collection, for his great benefactions to them set up [this inscription] as to one who deserved it. The place for it was provided by a decree of the decurions.

Somewhere under the scaffolding, or maybe removed to another place while work was going on, is a Roman sarcophagus which the TCI guide to Umbria describes as "prezioso"; I haven't seen it.

Other bits of stone include the one-line inscription of C. Sentius, apparently unfinished, and this other loose piece of flotsam, a very late and unsuccessful Roman capital of something like the composite order, awkwardly reused by the medieval builders:


[image ALT: zzz. It is a bit of Roman spolia in the medieval church of S. Maria in Pantano near Massa Martana, Umbria (central Italy).]

Frescoes

The church also includes a few fragmentary frescoes, none particularly good, and betraying the time of an earlier restoration (which in defense of the overworked squads of modern experts and craftsmen who help preserve the thousands of old patches of beautiful paint thruout Italy, is almost impossible to avoid). Dodging the scaffolding, then:

[image ALT: zzz. It is a fragmentary fresco in the medieval church of S. Maria in Pantano near Massa Martana, Umbria (central Italy).]

[image ALT: zzz. It is a fragmentary fresco in the medieval church of S. Maria in Pantano near Massa Martana, Umbria (central Italy).]

and the best of those I photographed,

[image ALT: zzz. It is a fragmentary fresco in the medieval church of S. Maria in Pantano near Massa Martana, Umbria (central Italy).]

The Virgin and Child, with St. Anthony Abbot to their left; to their right the martyr with the palm is said to be St. Barbara — whose tower ought to be visible, but I'm not seeing it.


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Page updated: 24 Aug 12