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Stages of Christianity:
The Hill of Canoscio

A place in northwestern Umbria: 43°23N, 12°13E.

[image ALT: A low hill with a large isolated neoclassical church. It is a view of the church of the Madonna in Canoscio, Umbria (central Italy).]

The Santuario della Madonna di Canoscio.

Within the comune of Città di Castello, about 10 km S of that town, between the small villages of Sansecondo (2 km N) and Trestina (2 km S) — see my diary entry of Apr. 27, 2004 for my walk in the area — the frazione of Canoscio is not an inhabited hamlet, but a low hill with three main claims to fame.

[image ALT: The façade of a two‑story church of plastered stone, surmounted by a pediment. The ground story, much wider than the upper story, consists largely of a columned portico. It is a view of the shrine of the Madonna in Canoscio, Umbria (central Italy).]

[ 6/12/05: 1 page, 8 photos ]

Ask an Umbrian Catholic, and you'll learn about the Shrine of the Madonna of Canoscio: the large mid‑19c neoclassical church, attractively sited on the very top of the hill, is a regional pole of Marian piety dating back to the fourteenth century and recently proclaimed a minor basilica by John Paul II.

[image ALT: A windowless two‑story stone church with a belfry attached, twice as tall. It is a view of the church of SS. Cosma e Damiano in Canoscio, Umbria (central Italy).]

[ 6/12/05: 1 page, 12 photos ]

Much earlier than the Santuario of the Madonna is the Pieve dei SS. Cosma e Damiano, a large, sturdy 13c Romanesque church with some unusual frescoes that make it well worth a visit. Maybe more importantly, they make it worth repairing the building before the paintings are irrecoverably lost to water infiltration: can funds be found?

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Earlier still in the life of Christendom is Canoscio's most celebrated artistic and religious treasure, the fame of which extends world-wide, far eclipsing that of the hill's two churches, at least among scholars of Late Antiquity: the 6c paleochristian hoard of Canoscio, found here in the 1930's, is a silver dinner service of 25 beautiful pieces either made or refurbished for liturgical use, and gives us a precious insight into ancient Christianity. The set is now exhibited in the Museo del Duomo of Città di Castello, which is, partly because of it, the best of the three main museums in that town. Since photography there is not allowed, I can't show them to you, and you'll have to see it in person; the museum's website devotes a page to it, with several photographs among the links in the text.

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Page updated: 2 Apr 16