Collegiate Church of Santa Lucia
The Church of Santa Lucia is a treasure trove of art and architecture.
The first church dedicated to the Siracusan martyr, Santa Lucia, was built between the 3rd and 5th centuries, when Christianity was taking hold of the region.
The two fortified settlements of Aspromonte and Montefiore (which had existed here since the times of the Piceni), were amalgamated into one ‘free commune’ and a church was built inside the fortifications which was given the title of a Pieve ( a church with the right to baptise Christians) and referred to as a Pievania, having baptismal jurisdiction over a very large area.
The area where the original church was built is now known as Monte Castello (Castle Hill). In the second half of the 15th century a new, larger church was built inside the fortified settlement on the spot where the rear part of Santa Lucia now stands, using the main doorway of the original Pieve.
In 1730 the church was modified again, creating an entrance directly onto what is now the Piazza Della Repubblica, and incorporating the 12th century doorway under the exterior of the apse. This is made up of sandstone blocks decorated with a bas relief of stylised armed warriors and horses, symbolic animals, and a bishop with mitre and crosier (or crook) with a priest on either side.
The doorway is topped by a typically medieval spiral arch, decorated with blossoming branches. The architrave has a plaited motif, typical of the 9th/10th century.
In 1850 Massini, an architect from Ascoli, was given the task of enlarging the church, but because of the chaotic state of the Catholic church during the Napoleonic era, the plans were never finished according to the architect’s designs, which included taking away part of a palazzo which still impedes the view of the whole church from the piazza.
The new church was consecrated in 1878, and by 1900 it had been decorated by artists from the Fermo school, including Achilli di Montegiorgio and Coppola, and, most notably, Luigi Fontana. The floor of the church was completely paved with marble, and a highly ornamented stucco ceiling added.
The Chapel of the ‘Santissimo Sacramento’ (the holy sacrament) is adorned with beautiful paintings by Luigi Fontana, and is now separated from the main body of the church by an elegant locally-made metalwork screen designed by Tonino Virgili. The paintings in the chapel of Saint Lucia, also the work of Fontana, are particularly impressive, documenting the life of the saint with an exceptional use of colour and light.
The choir stalls were locally made in the 1600s, whereas the altar and pulpit, made of African walnut, are the work of Aldo Sergiacomi from Offida in 1968 and 1977 respectively. More recently the church has been enriched by the addition of various stained glass windows made in Florence.