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Monuments&Museums: The Municipality

Church and Monastery of Saint Anthony the Abbot


Church and Monastery of Saint Anthony the Abbot

Strongly required for by the Christian community of Montemaggio, to give greater prestige to the area and cater for its spiritual need, the monastery and church were built in the second half of the sixteen century on the top of a hill called “Monte Via”, in the village of Pieve Corena, Montemaggio, the old castrum Montis Madii.  The monastery, belonging to the Franciscan order of the Friars Minor, was established with an ecclesiastical letter by Pope Paul III on the 20th December 1543. 2nd August 1546 saw P. Sebastiano from Pietramaura blessing the monastery’s corner stone and the Church was completed in 1554, when it was solemnly consecrated by Monsignore Francesco Sormani, Bishop of Montefeltro on the 31st August 1567. The building of the monastery took much longer due to lack of funding, until the Bishop donated a consisted amount of money, 310 ecus, in 1582, in memory of his mother Caterina. It was completed between 1582 and 1587 when it was ready to host a community of ten friars. In the XVII century, besides giving shelter to travellers and pilgrims, it was also a medical infirmary, a library and a prestigious school of philosophical studies which improved consistently the building’s outlook, as testified by an historical report from 1732 by P. Antonio from San Marino, the monastery’s watchmen.

Dedicated to Saint Anthony the Abbot, the single-nave church has a wide rectangular apse and a side chapel dedicated to the Most Holy Crucifix. Right before the entrance is a vestibule made up of seven columns, which formed originally the lower colonnade of the monastery. The church immediately reveals itself in all its Baroque pomp, with its valuable decorations, elegant cornices, shiny gold-plating, and fine paintings. On the right of the building lies the chapel of the Most Holy Crucifix, hosting a polychrome wooden crucifix, donated by the Duchess of Urbino, Lucrezia d’Este (around 1598) and probably sculpted by Francesco Mollica, an artist from Naples, in 1500. The chapel also treasures the remains of the roman martyr Saint Apricia, moved here from the Roman catacombs in 1844. Walking up to the apse, a niche hosting the statue of Pasquale Baylon, a Franciscan saint, precedes two richly decorated altars, dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary and to Saint Francis. In the apse, which is separated from the nave by a XVIII century marble balustrade, the most valuable art pieces are the main altar, dedicated to Saint Anthony the Abbot, and the wooden choir, carved in 1772 by two master cabinet-makers from Urbino, Morcioni and Mazzaferri. Walking back to the exit, you can admire three gilded altars dedicated to Saint Anthony from Padua, to the Immaculate Conception and to Saint Joseph respectively, as well as an altarpiece attributed to painter Bartolomeo Giorgetti from Pennabilli (XVII century).

Between the last two altars is a niche, just in front of the one mentioned earlier, hosting the statue of Saint Vincenzo Ferreri, protector of the countryside. Up above, just over the entrance door, lies the wooden choir decorated by Vincenzo Loppi in 1782, and featuring an organ dating back to 1725. Looking further above, you can also admire a valuable coffered ceiling from 1707, in which are inserted 22 canvases painted with Franciscan Saints and many Blesseds (XVII-XVIII centuries).