The Chiesa di San Marco in Viterbo is a small 12th century church characterized by an extremely sober architecture. The most beautiful part of this church its apse, with works of art by Giovan Francesco d’Avanzarano and Francesco d’Antonio.
San Marco Church Viterbo
Address: Via San Marco, 4 – 01100 Viterbo. Phone: Unknown. Entrance fee: Free.
History and Description
The San Marco Church, as testified by a plaque next to its portal, was consecrated on December 1, 1198. The event took place in the presence of Pope Innocent III and 15 cardinals.
The church consists of a single nave with a gabled roof. Its sobriety and austerity are explained by its location. When the church was built, it was still located outside the city walls, in a neighborhood inhabited mostly by peasants.
The stream Ulcionio, which used to run past the church, often flooded. This made it necessary to place the portal at the top of a high staircase. The Ulcionio now flows through the valley opposite.
The apse faces east and deviates slightly to the left from the church axis. This deviation has been interpreted as being a symbol of the way the head of Jesus on the cross inclines to the left.
During World War II, bombing caused some damage, including the loss of four altarpieces were lost.
What to see
The two stone tabernacles were in use until the mid-16th century. The Council of Trent had decreed that a tabernacle ought to take up central position in the altar.
The fresco in the apse depicts the “Holy Father with Peter and Paul” and dates from the 16th century. The “Madonna and Child” in the apse was painted by Giovan Francesco d’Avanzarano. The charcoal sketch of a woman’s head, which is preserved behind glass on the right wall, was the work of the same painter. A “San Marco” by the Francesco d’Antonio, who was known under the nickname Balletta, is kept in the presbytery.