Card Author:

Luca Della Rocca


Piazza Castello, 01100 Bagnaia VT


XII Secolo
Documented sources say that the Church of the Madonna del Rosario, previously Santa Maria, has been present in the borgo since 1182. In 1755, Cardinal Lante della Rovere had it restored, and the Church was modified into the present aspect.



Documented sources say that the Church of the Madonna del Rosario, previously Santa Maria, has been present in the borgo since 1182. During the first half of the 14th century, the Brotherhood of the Disciplined began to run the church, and continued to do so for the following centuries until 1611. In 1541, the church underwent complete renovations overseen by the Cardinal Niccolò Ridolfi. In order to construct a new door to the borgo, renovations occurred. Between 1541 and 1548, the rectory was deconstructed to allow room for the door. For this occasion, the Brotherhood of S. Giovanni inscribed the following motto on the architrave of the door: JOANNES ERAT NOMEN EIUS. In 1553 reorganization work began and continued into the second half of the 16th century. In 1555, the old door was closed in and a new door was built, with a flight of stairs for easy access. A few years later, the sacristy was expanded into the bottom floor of the municipal tower. The continuing expansion of the adjacent Palazzo absorbed parts of the church, and its external facade became as it is seen today. In 1587, the Brotherhood of San Giovanni Battista, now with the new name of Gonfalone, transferred to a new church that was constructed outside of the walls, abandoning the Church of Santa Maria. However in 1656, the church was saved by the Brotherhood of the Rosario, who transformed it into their own oratory, assigning it the name, Madonna del Rosario. In 1755, Cardinal Federico Lante della Rovere had it restored. Unfortunately, during the first half of the 19th century, deterioration continued to afflict the appearance of the building. In 1855, the architect Crispino Bonagente began another restoration project and 1866 the church was almost completely transformed interior into the way we see it today. In 1877, Rocco De Angelis completed the staircase, at the front of the building. Since then, the church has kept the same appearance, and the Brotherhood of the Rosario has been its custodian.


The church of the Madonna del Rosario of Bagnaia is situated within the walls of the borgo, on the south side, in Piazza Castello. The facade is between the door of the borgo and the buildings of the adjacent palace. To access the entry point of the church, there is a staircase made of peperino stone outfitted with a parapet that rests on the right of the wall. A simple door with molding devoid of decoration sits on top of a lunette. On the left of the lunette is an arched window. In the top left, separated from the door, is the Bagnaia coat of arms.


The church is in the shape of a crux commissa. The walls are pillared and decorated with Doric trabeation. Three pillars separate the central nave from the sides. There are three altars that still exist: the main at the head of the cross and two other symmetrical altars at the left and right. The center dome is undecorated.  After entering the door, on the left wall is a fresco of Madonna con Bambino tra San Pietro e San Paolo, done by an unknown artist from the 15th century. Continuing on the left wall is the first altar dedicated to San Filippo Neri, on which is a canvas depicting San Filippo Neri in adorazione alla Madonna con Bambino e Angeli. The work, of the 18th century, is attributed to the painter Anton Angelo Falaschi. Resting on the altar is a modern plaster statue of Madonna Assunta in cielo, with a 17th century canopy. A step gives access to the presbytery where we find the main altar richly decorated with polychrome marble. Above the main altar (titled la Madonna del Rosario), is the canvas of the Madonna del Rosario by Calisto Calisti. La Vergine with il Bambino is represented between San Domenico, Santa Caterina da Siena, San Pio, kings and queens in adoration. At the bottom left is a self-portrait of Calisti.
The painting is from 1656, as written in the painted scroll in the bottom right. The apse is decorated with faux marble painting. On either side of the triumphal arch are painted plaster statues. On the right is Sant’Antonio da Padova, and on the left is Sant’Agnese. The right wall houses the altar dedicated to Santa Elisabetta. There is a painting by an unknown artist with Santa Elisabetta dressed in Francescan clothing with seven angels. The canvas is attributed to the eighteenth century, and follows the style of the painter Anton Angelo Falaschi. Before the altar dedicated to Santa Elisabetta we find a aedicule in faux polychrome marble which houses the painting of the SS. Sacramento, reproducing the same subject as in the Church of Santa Maria in Viterbo. The right wall is home to the first canvas of SS. Sacramento inside a niche with a statue of Madonna Addolorata of the eighteenth century. Wedged inside the space between the chancel and the first pillar on the right, is a baptismal font made by the stonemason Paparelli. The west side of the church is characterized by the choir which has three square windows over which is the emblem of Cardinal Marcello Lante della Rovere who subsidized the restoration work in 1755. Under the central window is an inscription in memory of the work contracted out by the Cardinal De Gambara in 1556. Under the choir, between the moldings, there are frescos dating from the end of the 15th century to the beginning of the 16th century. In succession from right to left: Sant’Antonio, San Giovanni, and un Santo not identified.

Translation by Lauren Williamson, Texas A&M University, enrolled in the USAC Viterbo program at the Università degli Studi della Tuscia.


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