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S. Martino in Manciano


[image ALT: zzz. It is the church of S. Martino in Manciano, Umbria (central Italy).]

S. Martino from the SW. The church must date at least to the 12c.

The church of S. Martino is actually some 2 km NE of the village of Manciano, and higher up the mountain by nearly 80 meters, in an area of very few houses, where olive groves are starting to give way to woods.


[image ALT: zzz. It is a view of the church of S. Martino in Manciano, Umbria (central Italy).]

The real question is one I can't answer, and maybe no one else can, either: why, since there is no town here, and has never been a town here, why is there a church in this place at all?

Here is my best guess — but be warned, I don't have much more than imagination to guide me. The olive groves, so important to Trevi's economy, are the first key to the puzzle. According to Pro Trevi's pages on S. Martino, 200 m behind the church you can still find the remains of an old millstone quarry; surely this heavy work must have involved several dozen men, maybe more, plus womenfolk to feed them lunch — cutting and transporting huge blocks of stone is hardly work to do on an empty stomach. Now after a day of hard manual labor the last thing I want to do is trudge several miles thru hills just to get to bed: so I suspect a seasonal camp up here — without millstones you have no olive oil — and a priest visiting it on Sundays and saying Mass; a small church would have been useful, and St. Martin is among the patron saints of millers.

Did I mention that the step up to S. Martino's door is a millstone? If I'm right about the church, that's not just a convenient stone: it's an act of worship.

The church remains consecrated and, in accordance with canon law, Mass is still said here the minimum once a year, on the 11th of November, the feast of St. Martin. The beautiful 13c painting, tempera on wood, of the Virgin and Child, with scenes of the life of Christ and the life of St. Martin, that could be seen here until the 1950s is now in the Diocesan Museum of nearby Spoleto.


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Page updated: 10 Aug 05