The San Giovenale Church is located in the medieval district of Orvieto. It stands on the western edge of the historic center and overlooks the Paglia River valley. its biggest attraction is a 15th century “Madonna del Soccorso”.
San Giovenale Church Orvieto
Address: Via Volsinia II 2, 05018 – Orvieto. Phone: Unknown. Opening hours: From 09:00 to 12:00 and from 16:00 to 19:00. Entrance fee: Free of charge.
The San Giovenale Church stands on the highest point of the tuff stone rock, halfway up the Via Volsinia. The church is believed to have been founded in 1004. Some historians think that there used to be an Etruscan temple on this site, which was later transformed into a church.
San Giovenale was the first bishop of the nearby city of Narni, and probably lived in the 4th century.
An effigy of the saint can be seen in the lunette above the side entrance to the church, which was renovated and enlarged in the Gothic style in the 14th century. In the process, the original semicircular apse was replaced by the current, square version.
The facade is extremely austere. The entrance gate is characterized by a semicircular arch and a Romanesque vestibule. The rose window is carved into the tuff stone. The tower, located at the front of the church, causes a fortress-like impression.
The interior of the church, which consists of three naves, is also extremely sober. The marble altar from 1171 is a highlight. Several 13th to 15th century frescoes, many of them restored, can still be seen.
On the inside of the facade, to the left of the main entrance, is a fresco depicting “Paradise”. The work shows some Jewish influences and was painted by an unknown artist from Perugia. Its theme is the Eternal Life.
The frescoes in the right nave are largely dedicated to the Madonna and were painted in the 12th century. The painting on the left pillar depicts the “Annunciation of the Lord” and may have been painted by Andrea di Giovanni.
Madonna del Soccorso
The most famous work of art in the San Giovenale Church is the “Madonna del Soccorso”, painted in the 15th century. The work was donated to the church by the Ghezzi family in the 16th century, but was only discovered in the 20th century. The gold background indicates that it is probably a copy of a Byzantine icon.