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Poggio Lavarino's Parish Church
A Microcosm of Umbrian Art

[image ALT: It is a detail of a painting of the Virgin and Child with SS. Peter and Paul in the church of S. Bernardino in Poggio Lavarino, Umbria (central Italy).]

The Virgin and Child with SS. Peter and Paul:
detail of an 18c or possibly 19c painting in the church.

The church of S. Bernardino is just the right size for the village it serves: it's small. Squeezed in between houses on the clearing at the top of the hill, it has no decorative façade to make one realize it's a church; the Lord's house has plastered walls and a front door much like the front doors of its neighbors. Inside, one room is enough to gather the congregation.

But even in this exiguous space, in a village of fewer than a hundred souls, we have a sampler of Umbrian art — and not bad art, either — of several periods.

[image ALT: missingALT. It is the altar niche of the church of S. Bernardino in Poggio Lavarino, Umbria (central Italy).]

The Virgin and Child in the niche behind the altar (close‑up) is of roughly a century earlier, probably mid‑17c; plastered over for long enough that none of the inhabitants remembered it, it was rediscovered by the parish priest in the 1970's. Better restoration of the damage to the work would require expensive professional attention, and Umbria has two or three thousand frescoes ahead of this one in the queue.

Just how small the church is can be seen in the picture above. The fourteen Stations of the Cross are traditionally set around a church in at least a token walk, reproducing at some level Jesus' movement thru Jerusalem on Good Friday: it's most unusual for them to be arrayed together in one place, as in the plaques surrounding our fresco.

But speaking of tradition, the Catholic Church continues to view herself as a custodian of our history; and even in Poggio Lavarino's little one-room church there's room to take in another orphan:

[image ALT: A roughly cubical chunk of limestone, about one meter on a side; on the faces we see, the front is divided into two vertical panels: on the left, an elegant pitcher is carved, on the right a design like a four-pane window; and on the other visible side, a large round design, probably meant to be a saucer or platter. It is a block of Roman stone from Carsulae, now in the church of S. Bernardino in Poggio Lavarino, Umbria (central Italy).]

A block of stone from the ancient Roman city of Carsulae, about 5 km southwest of here. From the decoration, that includes a patera and an urceus, we may safely guess it was part of an altar; of a fairly imposing one at that: it's larger than most similar carving.

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Page updated: 23 Feb 07