Photographer's Note

Grotto of the Angels - Magliano Romano (RM)

The rock church called Grotta degli Angeli is an environment dug into the tuff along the slope of the Casale hill to the west of the town, just below the remains of medieval wall structures near the historic center of Magliano. Little is known about the origins of the rock church, perhaps some hermit friars of oriental origin around the sixth century, built the first chapel on the remains of an Etruscan-Faliscan necropolis. In fact, the traces of a pre-existing hypogeum can be clearly distinguished in the left half of the presbytery area: the original vault of the room is well preserved, slightly higher than that of the rock church, but also one of the walls and, in correspondence with the beginning of the actual presbytery, a well-defined edge; the two niches on the back wall of the church also seem relevant to this first room, especially the one closest to the apse, surmounted by a simple lunette, examples of which can also be found in some sepulchers within the current town. Whether or not it was a tomb, this room had an almost square plan, and was covered by a barrel vault; neither the vault nor the wall have been preserved for their entire length, probably because they were destroyed by a collapse. On the other hand, no element supports the hypothesis of a foundation by oriental monks. In fact, it is not possible to accurately determine the date of foundation of the church, which appears to have been excavated in a single phase and shows an architectural structure evidently dependent on Romanesque models from Lazio. According to some scholars, it could be identifiable with the church of Sant'Arcangelo de Malliano, mentioned in the Rationes Decimarum Italiae, register of the tithes paid between 1274 and 1280, but it is unlikely that the sacred environment excavated in the tuff was dedicated to St. Michael the archangel , there is no trace of a Michaelic cult. The sanctuary must still have been in operation in the 15th century, as evidenced by a fresco attributable to that period painted on the back wall. The engraved date 1457 can be read on a remnant of the fresco on the right wall.
Around the end of the 11th century or at the beginning of the next, the church was frescoed with paintings from the Roman school. The apostolic visit of 1574 mentions a church half a mile away from the castle, below it "and especially on the left side there is another church which is now almost entirely filled with earth and is built in the way that the church is of s. Sebastiano in Rome with its pillars and columns ". The upper church, of which no trace is found, was probably that of Sant’Arcangelo de Malliano mentioned in the Rationes Decimarum, the church "full of earth" was probably the Grotta degli Angeli, whose original title is destined to remain unknown. The hypogeum and its important pictorial cycle are rediscovered in 1902 by the art historian Federico Hermanin, who reports on the discovery in the Bulletin of the Roman Philological Society, and the following year he published the first overall study on the frescoes in the same magazine.
In 1939, the frescoes that covered the walls were detached and removed for fear of theft, then brought to Rome, first to Palazzo Corsini, then to Palazzo Venezia where they remained for about half a century, now they are kept in Magliano Romano at the church of San John. A Roman stone, which in old photos can be seen lying down, served as the altar of the church. In 1994 it was removed and placed in the garden of the town's primary school, today it is also kept in the parish church.

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Photo Information
  • Copyright: Silvio Sorcini (Silvio1953) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 18677 W: 130 N: 39480] (211605)
  • Genre: Lieux
  • Medium: Couleur
  • Date Taken: 2020-10-24
  • Exposition: f/0.1, 30 secondes
  • Versions: version originale
  • Date Submitted: 2020-10-25 1:09
Viewed: 0
Points: 36
  • None
Additional Photos by Silvio Sorcini (Silvio1953) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 18677 W: 130 N: 39480] (211605)
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