Photographer's Note

This is Santa Maria di Collemaggio, the most beautiful church in L'Aquila, main town of Abruzzo region.

Today I also posted a closer view on TrekLens

Infos from

Early in 1275 Brother Pietro da Morrone returned from Lyon where he had obtained the approval for his order and he spent the night in L’Aquila. Legend has it that in a dream the Virgin Mary ordered him to build a basilica on the Colle Maggio hillside. The church was consecrated on August 25, after lengthy and complicated building work.
The complex comprises a number of styles which are the consequence not only of the length of time taken to build the place, but also because of the vast number of restorations it has undergone. Nowadays the visitor will find a monumental façade with a horizontal corona that was not completed until the 1500s, characterised by the geometric inlays of the pink and white blocks. The surface is partitioned by a shelf cornice, whose upper part is decorated by two pilaster strips that create three areas and frame, in the central area, a great rosette with a double row of mullions and trefoil arcs. There are three portals in the lower part (late 14th-early 15th century) and two tondoes, fretworked with the same motif as the main rosette. The central door lintel is decorated by 24 Gothic niches that originally housed statues of saints, of which only 4 headless examples have survived. The splayed archivolts enclose a frescoed lunette. On the right an octagonal terraced tower, finished with a barbican crown, is set against the façade. Used as an exterior ambo, up to 1880 it was also the base of a bell tower that was subsequently demolished. On the left hand wall there is the Porta Santa della Perdonanza (the Holy Pardon Door), an elegant 13th century portal surmounted with the city’s coat-of-arms. The portal lunette has a fresco attributed to Antonio d’Atri (14th century), depicting the Virgin Mary flanked by St John the Baptist and St Pietro Celestino. Next to the basilica there is the monastery and it is possible to visit the cloister as well as the refectory hall, at the back of which hangs a Crucifixion attributed to Saturnino Gatti (16th century).
The basilica, which is the biggest in Abruzzo, has a Latin cross layout. A recent restoration has freed the interior of its Baroque additions and has reinstated the original spaciousness of the three naves, cadenced by ogee arches resting on octagonal pillars. The ceiling has exposed trusses, the floor is inlaid, scattered with tombstones, mainly of abbots general of the Celestine Order, and it repeats the polychromatic motif of white and pink stone. Light enters via a row of Gothic windows in the side naves, rose windows on the entrance wall and openings in the presbytery and cupola.
The right nave wall has three Gothic niches that house 15th century paintings depicting, respectively: the Madonna with saints Apollonia and Agnes, the Assumption and coronation of the Virgin, the Crucifixion. The right nave also houses a lovely monumental organ (18th century) in gilt, inlaid wood, with a chancel decorated in bas relief scenes from the life of Christ. The life of Celestine V is illustrated on the walls by a series of oils by Karl Rutter (17th century), a Flemish artist who became a Celestine monk, taking the name of Andrea of Danzig. Three arches lead into the transept which keeps its Baroque forms and concludes in three apses. On the right hand altar there is a polychromatic terracotta Madonna by Silvestro dell’Aquila (16th century).
The remains of St Pietro Celestino have been housed at Santa Maria di Collemaggio since 1327. The marble mausoleum made in 1517, commissioned by the Ordine della Lana by Girolamo da Vicenza, reiterates with elegance the forms of the Lombard Renaissance: it is finely decorated with two orders of mullions and pilasters, protecting the urn with the saint’s remains, that in the past had been stolen twice, once in 1528 by the Prince of Orange’s troops, who stole the silver casket made by the Sulmona school, and again in 1799 by the French, who stole the 18th century urn.
Today the mortal remains of St Pietro Celestino, dressed in papal vestments, can be viewed in a crystal and silver casket made by the Aquilan goldsmith Luigi Cardilli. The slippers worn by the Saint are those that he used during his short time as pope.

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Additional Photos by Giorgio Mercuri (giorgimer) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3429 W: 12 N: 2250] (35017)
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