St. Mary of the Annunciation
The rediscovered frescoes
What it is and where it is
At the top of the village of Paganico Sabino, just below the fortress, and on the road leading toward the mole hills of the Obito valley, there is a small church with a sober façade, which has watched over the village and its inhabitants since time immemorial. Before 2000 it was in a state of neglect, the roof caved in, the 16th-century frescoes exposed to the elements. Now, after a major restoration, it has come back to life.
Why it is special
The right wall has held a secret for centuries. And who knows how great was the surprise of the restorers when, under a coat of plaster, blue skies emerged and then winged cherubs, figures of saints, Madonnas with Baby Jesus... There where only a large Crucifixion existed before, pictorial cycles extended over an area of as much as 60 square meters surfaced. These frescoes - dating back to 1590 and attributed to an anonymous painter known as the "master of Paganico" - in their simplicity are a precious testimony to a popular art that is a spokesman for a deep and sincere religious sense.
Not to be missed
TheCrucifixion was saved from the elements by the arched niche that houses it. The scene depicts Jesus crucified between Mary and John, with small figures of angels collecting in a chalice the blood gushing from the Savior's hands and side. At the foot of the cross is embraced Magdalene with long, dissolved blond hair. The fresco ends at the bottom with a band of racemes on a white background.
A bit of history
The first written traces date back to 1398. Today, reading the wall surfaces allows us to reconstruct the history and evolution of this church, the layout of which is now very different from what it was originally. The restoration, financed as part of a European project called "Albergo Diffuso," was completed in 2001: it was during the execution of the work that the frescoes came to light.
The restoration work revealed other secrets including, for example, the original rock cell of the complex, discovered in the sacristy room, and other frescoes including a sweet Madonna of Consolation with her chubby Child, both with rosy cheeks and the frank look of the locals. The brushstrokes go quickly over the background and robes, but pause to trace a delicate lace border framing Mary's face.
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