The 12th century San Pietro Ispano Church in Boville Ernica, a small town south of Rome, contains a number of works of art from the first Saint Peter’s Basilica. Its most famous attractions is part of the only surviving mosaic by Giotto.
San Pietro Ispano Church Boville Ernica
Address: Piazza San Pietro, 9 – Boville Ernica. Phone: +39 3475571861. Opening hours: Friday to Sunday from 15.00 till 17.00. (It is recommended to call first, since times may vary, especially during the Covid crisis).
The San Pietro Ispano Church is built on op of the cave in which the saint in the 10th century decided to live. The original cave is still visible in the crypt underneath the transept.
Especially on the 11th of March the crypt is a popular destination for pilgrims.
The San Pietro Ispano Church itself was constructed in the 12th century. The works of art in the church were brought to Boville Ernica by Monsignor Simoncelli, after the destruction of the first St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
The most important attraction of the church is a tondo depicting an angel that probably used to be part of Giotto‘s mosaic “Saint Peter’s Boat” in the atrium of Saint Peter’s Basilica. This mosaic was made in 1298 and is the only surviving one of Giotto‘s mosaics.
The 15th century marble bass relief depicting the “Madonna and Child” was done by Sansovino. Bernini later added the head of Saint Joseph.
Andrea Bregno was responsible for the two statues of the saints Peter and Paul on the sides of the chapel.
Upon entering the church, you can see a marble cross on the left. This used to be displayed in the atrium of the first Saint Peter’s Basilica. It was custom to kiss this cross before entering the church.
The perfectly preserved early Christian sarcophagus (350 AD) was found during excavations in Boville itself. Two Biblical scenes are depicted on this tomb, one from the Old and one from the New Testament. The first one depicts King Nebuchadnezzar with three girls and a burning oven and second one the Birth of Christ.