The church of San Francesco is located right next to the archaeological museum of Amelia. It replaced an earlier parish church dedicated to Saints Philip and James. My travel guide actually still calls the building the church of Santi Filippo e Giacomo, and this caused some confusion at the tourist information office, where we asked where we could find that church. A quick search on Google – ‘San Google’ as the staff called it – revealed that the two churches are actually the one and the same.
Construction of the current church started in 1287. Its façade dates from the early fifteenth century: it was built between 1401 and 1406. The façade is quite simple, but it has a lovely rose window with – if my eyes do not deceive me – the lamb of God in the centre. The interior of the San Francesco may come as a surprise to people expecting Late Medieval elements. Only the narthex has a few remains of frescoes from the fourteenth century depicting, among other things, a Crucifixion scene and two Madonnas with Child (the second one appears to have been painted over older frescoes). Upon entering the church itself, we find ourselves surrounded by a Late Baroque interior that was completed in 1767.
The church has an interesting octagonal dome that cannot be seen from the Piazza Augusto Vera, the square in front of the church. Visitors wanting to see the dome should climb all the way to the top of the hill on which Amelia is situated and go to the lookout point in front of the Duomo, which was discussed in part 1. This lookout point also offers a view of the campanile of the San Francesco. The original tower was built in 1447, but it collapsed in 1915 and had to be rebuilt in 1932.
The most interesting part of the church is the Geraldini chapel on the right, which is dedicated to Saint Antonius of Padova. Here we find several tombs of members of the illustrious Geraldini family. The Geraldinis, together with the Farrattinis discussed in part 1, were among the most important families in Amelia. Their chapel dates from the last quarter of the fifteenth century. The oldest tomb in the chapel is that of Elisabetta and Matteo Geraldini. It is attributed to the sculptor Agostino di Duccio (ca. 1418-1481) and was made in 1477, a year that is mentioned on the tomb. The monument was commissioned by their sons Angelo, Bernardino, Battista and Girolamo. What is special about the tomb is that it has a double effigy of the two deceased, who are lying side by side. They are watched over by a saint, who can be identified as Antonius of Padova.
Angelo Geraldini, who died in 1486, served as Bishop of Sessa-Aurunca and as Prince-Bishop of Cammin in what is now Poland. His tomb can also be found in the chapel. It is attributed to either Andrea Bregno (ca. 1418-1506) or Luigi Capponi. The monument was commissioned by Angelo’s brothers Giovanni, Bernardino and Battista and his nephew Antonio, all of whom are mentioned in the epitaph. Girolamo (Hieronymus) Geraldini, who died in 1481, also has a tomb in the family chapel. The epitaph indicates that he was 39 at the time of his death. His effigy shows him in full armour with a sword in his lap, which is appropriate given his career as a soldier.
I also took a picture of the dual tomb of the cousins Camillo and Belissario Geraldini. Camillo – the first archdeacon of Amelia – died in 1480 aged 24; Belissario passed away just two years later at the tender age of 17. The tomb was apparently inspired by that of Raffaelle della Rovere (died 1477) in the church of Santi Apostoli in Rome, which is a work by the aforementioned Andrea Bregno. The ‘weepers’ leaning on shields are indeed quite similar to the ones we can find in the Eternal City.
Notably absent in the chapel is the tomb of Giovanni Geraldini (died 1488), which can be found in the Duomo of Amelia. The two most interesting members of the family also do not have a tomb in the Geraldini chapel. I am referring to the half-brothers Antonio Geraldini (died 1489) and Alessandro Geraldini (1455-1525). Both were active in Spain at the court of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, and both actively sponsored Christopher Columbus as he made his plans for discovering the Americas.
This post is based on my Dorling Kindersley travel guide and the Key to Umbria website, especially the pages on the church, the chapel and the Geraldini family.
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