Church of San Filippo Neri (1573 - 1605)
The elegant 18th century façade of San Filippo Neri contains a wealth of fine reliquaries, statues and paintings, as well as an impressive organ made by the eminent organ-maker from Perugia, Morettini, unfortunately currently in need of restoration.
Local people know it as San Fedele, because the mortal remains of this Roman martyr lie in the church, with a grandiose sarcophagus and statue, and the local people feel great attachment to him.
The church also has an interesting history. In about 1573 a small church was constructed outside the city walls to the south-east of the town called the church of Santa Maria del Monte (Saint Mary of the Mountain).
It was completed in 1605. Nearby, a monastery was built for the Silvestrini congregation, for the followers of Saint Silvestro Guzzolini, based on Benedictine rules. In September 1646 the son of a local noble family, Leonardo Pelegallo, took his Holy Orders here.
The Silvestrine monastery was closed down by Pope Innocent X I in April 1653 as part of his clamp down on small monasteries, in which all monasteries with fewer than 6 monks were compulsorily dissolved. In the meantime, in 1646 other illustrious Montefiore residents Don Valeriano and his brother Cesare Egidi, provost of the Priory of Saint Pietro, (which was then situated in the Piazza Della Repubblica), together founded the Congregation of the Filippini.
They had the building which had been abandoned by the Silvestrine monks adapted, using part of their handsome inheritances, and dedicated it to the founder of their order, Saint Filippo Neri. This was the origin of the church we see today.
The church assumed its present form in the middle of the 18th century, with the addition of the lateral naves and the apse. It was consecrated by the bishop of Fermo, Domenico Spinucci, on March 19, 1776. The Filippini thrived as an order, and were much respected by successive Popes during the 18th and 19th centuries. They were afforded free access to all the sacred Vatican sites and, in particular, the catacombs.
They enriched the Montefiore church with the many holy relics of saints and martyrs which we see there today, including the mortal remains of Saint Fedele. This was a period of great affluence for the aristocratic classes of the town, who had total power over the local government and the local economy.
This situation continued even after the unification of Italy right up to the start of the second world war.
The Holy Reliquaries, apart from their intrinsic theological value, are exceptional examples of 17th/18th century art, and they are arranged on the altars of the lateral naves.
But even the Filippini suffered hard times, being submitted first to suppression in 1810 following the introduction of Napoleonic laws, and again during the Unification of Italy in 1868, when the church became State Property. It was taken over by the comune (or the local government) and control handed over to the local clergy. The monastery was converted into a hospital, which transferred here from the centre of the town where it had been (on the site of the present day Palazzo Municipale (The Town Hall)) since 1478.
In 1963 the Comune undertook repairs and renovation of the church, including replacing the roof and renovating the internal decoration, supervised by Armando Moreschini and Diego Granatelli, as well as the marble flooring. There is also a stunning tabernacle made of gilded, inlaid wood, and the altar piece showing the glory of Saint Filippe, which is a copy of a painting by Sebastiano Conca (1679-1764). There are also some valuable paintings on the lateral altars.
In 1998 they also acquired the urn with the ashes of the eminent painter Domenico Cantatore, who loved Montefiore and spent his holidays here for the greater part of his adult life.