The Chiesa di Santa Maria Valleverde is an early 16th century church in the small town of Celano in Abruzzo. Highlights are the relief in the tympanum and a fresco by Il Sodoma. There is a small museum in the attached monastery.
Santa Maria Valleverde Church Celano
Address: Piazza Santa Maria, 1 – Celano. Phone: +39 0863 790322. Opening times: During day time. Admission: Free.
History and description
The Santa Maria Valleverde Church and its adjacent Convent were founded in 1504. Pope Julius II authorized the Duchess of Amalfi and Countess of Celano, also known as Giovanna d’Aragona, to start construction. Julius II was also the Pope who founded the Vatican Museums in Rome.
The most striking feature of the facade is the relief in the tympanum above the portal, which depicts the Agnus Dei facing a banner with the Piccolomini coat of arms on it. The lunette contains a 16th-century fresco depicting the “Madonna and Child between Saints Francis and Giovanni da Capestrano”.
What to see
The interior consists of a single nave. On the left side are three chapels decorated with frescoes, while along the right wall are two large altar cloths depicting respectively the “Nativity” (by an unknown 16th-century painter) and “Jesus and Simon of Cyrene” (painted between 1525 and 1530 by Giovanni Antonio Bozzi, nicknamed il Sodomo). Simon of Cyrene was the man compelled by the Romans to carry Jesus cross to the crucifixion.
From the presbytery one can enter the crypt of the church, called “Paradise” because of the ceiling painting depicting angels and cupids.
The arch forming the entrance to the chapel has the coats of arms of the Aragona-Castiglia dynasty and the Counts Piccolomini-Silveri, with the imperial eagle of Charles V above it.
Monastery and museum
The Franciscan monastery has a beautiful 15th-century cloister with a portico on which can be seen the half moons that form the coat of arms of the Piccolomini. The monastery houses a library and a small museum.