Carbognano, Church of Madonna della Valle
If teenth century through documents that testify to its rural character, and as reported by many wills, the building turns out to be one of the churches and chosen to bury their dead, trend followed with a low percentage of the local population at the turn of the late fifteenth and the first half of the sixteenth century, but that will increase significantly between the second half of the sixteenth and early seventeenth century. At the Church of Santa Maria in Valle there was a confraternity of the same name, as documented by pastoral visits and wills (ASVIT, Not. Carbognano, Prot. 15. January 24, 1567, cc. 22 r, 24 r.; Protocol No. 20, August 26, 1580. cc. 45v. – 47v.). It is these testaments that inform us of bequests in deniers both for the confraternity and for the church, in order to “mitter(e) in beatificatione hecclesie” or “debeant ipsa (the confraternity) spendere in aptatura et fabbrica in ecclesia Sanctea Maria in Valle”. Obviously in some cases the will is explicitly referred to the decoration of the interior of the church as in the case of the will of Vincenzo quondam Dominici Petroni of Carbognano, “Item Reliquit ut suis heredes faciant pingere una(m) Cappellam in Santas Maria de Valle pro remissione suo(rum) peccato(rum)”. (ASVIT, Not. Carbognano, Prot. n° 20, September 27, 1580. cc. 56r. 57r.). Or simply in the case where a tablecloth with white bands is left to the church by “Domina Paulina fili q. Cicchi Pecchij de terra Carboniano”. (ASVIT, Not. Carbognano, Prot. n° 25, June 23, 1591. cc. 132r. 133v. ). Even the City Councils let us know of the continuous need for help from the Romiti who were in Santa Maria de Valle to be at the “disposal et havere cura Loci della chiesa …”. (ASCC, SAR 2/6, Atti Deliberativi – Lib. Cons., September 30, 1607, cc. 153r – 154r. ), “to have grain and wine” (ASCC, SAR 2/7, Atti Deliberativi – Lib. Cons, October 18, 1610, cc. 36r – 36v.), or to rearrange the roof (ASCC, SAR 2/7, Atti Deliberativi – Lib. Cons, April 1, 1612, cc. 107r – 107v; and c. 142v), or the ceiling of the roof, (ASCC, SAR 2/7, Atti Deliberativi – Lib. Cons, February 3, 1614, c. 172v. 173r. ). Still in 1620 the priest Geronimo Satta, asked the City Council to remedy the humidity that entered the church “from the band above” (ASCC, SAR 2/7, Atti Deliberativi – Lib. Cons, January 6, 1620, cc. 93r – 94r.). The Council supported this and other requests by informing of the expense S. E. the Illustrious Francesco Colonna to “repair the roof and the arch of the church that threatened ruin” (ASCC, SAR 2/9, Atti Deliberativi – Libri dei Consigli, March 28, 1620, cc. 145r – 146r.). In the centuries to follow the fate of the small church of Our Lady of the Valley suffered the same vicissitudes of the other small churches of the village for an ever decreasing attendance by the faithful. With the opening of the new bigger and more comfortable churches (San Filippo Neri 1628), (Sant’Anna XVII century), and San Pietro (beginning of the XIX century), the importance of the church between the XV and the XVI century gradually decreased. Such condition of scarce frequency of faithfuls in the place of cult obliged to the half of the XIX sec. the fusion of the sodality of Saint Maria of the Valley with that one of the SS. Sacramento, of the Rosary (located once near the small church of san Pietro), and with that one of the tile, from 1850 near the collegiate one. This fusion generated the archconfraternity of the Holy Sacrament, Rosary, Valley and Tile, united at the Collegiate Church. This union was officially decreed on July 22, 1863 by Bishop Mengacci. In 1873 with the opening of the municipal cemetery in the area of Santa Maria in Valle, the church officially became “the church of the cemetery of Carbognano”, far from the splendor it had seen in previous centuries.
The following chapel (second chapel on the right), has on the altar the canvas with the Glory of Saint Eutizio where Saint Eutizio is represented between Saint Gratiliano (left), and Saint Felicissima (right). (Oil on canvas – cm. 200 x 250). The canvas comes from the church of Santa Maria where it was placed on the high altar. The work was made at the time of Maria Sforza Attendoli Colonna (about 1780), when she had the high altar rebuilt (R. Innocenti, Carbognano, 2001. p. 19). On the left wall of the chapel the Miracle of Saint Eutizio, beginning of the 20th century (cm 120 x 180). Tempera. On the right wall The Martyrdom of Saint Eutizio, a work made at the beginning of the 20th century (180 x 120 cm).
Its façade has simple lines in its gabled form, where the only decorative elements are the central portal and the two square side windows protected by grates. Above the portal there is an ovoidal light. Noteworthy wing its decoration in the rear part of the building. In fact in the back, you can see a painting, or rather what remains of it in its graffito part, of which traces survive datable between the end of the 15th and the beginning of the 16th century.
Given the elderly appearance of the face of the person portrayed and the color of the robe (black), the wall painting could depict a Saint Anne or a Saint Elizabeth. Unfortunately, the state of conservation of the work does not allow a clear reading. An intervention of restoration would allow to reveal important details such as the pigment of the clothes of what at first glance could seem the representation of the Assumption of the Madonna into heaven with the coronation by the angels, or at least a Virgin of the Recommended, given the open mantle to protect the village. At the top left and right, one can see the sun and the moon watching the scene, which is framed by an upper frame (corresponding to the ancient level of the church ceiling) and by a curtain held up at the sides by two angels, which almost simulates the insertion of the scene inside a curtain.
The back wall of the building shows two ovoid oculi arranged symmetrically, made at the bottom of the wall, openings that give light to the interior. Well visible from the back of the building the bell tower without bells. Its purely medieval shape is still characterized by a double sail arch. The structure of the small bell tower is located just beyond the middle of the building in the lateral part on the right, placed between the slope of the church and the lateral rooms.
The church has one big nave delimited at the bottom by an iron gate that separates the hall from the transept. Just beyond the gate that leads to the raised transept, we find on the right the small door that leads to the belfry. The gate. It actually leads to the second environment that can be framed as one big chapel that characterizes the whole church. The whole church had to be painted, as can be seen from the surveys, under the plaster, which allow a glimpse of the figures.
Among the pieces of fresco that appear from the essays are well distinguishable figures of several saints including a St. Leonard, recognizable by the handcuffs. An entire decorative cycle is still hidden under the plaster. A restoration campaign will be able to give back the right artistic importance of the whole decorative cycle and of the church.
On the high altar we can admire the most important fresco; Martinelli, a historian from Carbognano at the end of 1600, tells us about it: “…the great Mother of God revered in an image of the Madonna, an esteemed painting by Perugino or Pinturicchio, his pupil…”. It was still usable in the fresco the refinement and the gentleness of the line, the delicacy of that virginal face easily referable to the Umbrian school, so much to justify the attribution by Martinelli to the masters Perugino and Pinturicchio. But the still visible signature leaves no doubt: “OPERA LAFFATT…PASTURA DA VITERBO”. Antonio da Viterbo, known as Pastura, was a collaborator of Pinturicchio, and worked with him on the Borgia apartments in the Vatican, but he was already lost to memory a little over a century after his death, which occurred not much later than 1516. Unfortunately, the fresco has been the victim of many repaintings, including a restoration in 1825; only the face, neck and hands of the Virgin remain of the original. The painting represents the classic iconography of the Madonna with the Child on her lap; this one wears a coral rosary around his neck, symbol of martyrdom, and witnesses say that on the head of the Madonna was applied a golden crown, today, unfortunately, no longer existing. The nails inserted testify to the devotion of the faithful who used to belt the sacred images of ex voto and who admired the beauty of the face of the Madonna, so much so as to believe the legend that it had been painted by the Angels. The fresco has been recently restored. At the end of the 15th century Carbognano was part of the Farnese-Orsini fiefs and its castle became from the beginning of the 16th century the permanent residence of Giulia Farnese. E’ therefore probable that the work has been commissioned to the Pastura just from Julia, in the within of the jobs of rearrangement that interested the entire country; it already knew in fact the painter that had frequented like she the rooms of the Vatican where the artist worked to the side of the Pinturicchio near the apartment of pope Alexander VI Borgia. The choice of the subject could be attributed to the same Giulia, a woman devoted to the Virgin Mary so much to dedicate to the Madonna a church erected in Carbognano in 1522. Pastura was preferred over other artists, perhaps because of his iconographic repertoire characterized by numerous works of a religious nature in which depictions of the Child were prevalent. The attribution of the commission to Giulia is also justified by the fact that the pergula with vertical bars placed to divide the area for the officiant and the faithful is surmounted by a line of lilies: a flower often associated with the Virgin Mary and adopted in heraldry as the emblem of the Farnese family. The only decorative element inside the nave is a holy water stoup that rests on a peperino twisted column obtained with waste material, traditionally referred to between the XVI and XVII century.
V. Aramini, Sicuti Archivium inventum fuit”. The Ecclesiastical Archives of Carbognano (Viterbo). New Arrangement and Computerized Inventory. Thesis, Faculty of the University of Tuscia, Viterbo, Academic Year 2005/2006.
R. Ceccarelli – O. Tartarini, Carbognano, ieri, oggi, domani. Civita Castellana, 1940.
L. CIMARRA, Carbognano ..una terra e un paese da scoprire, in Tuscia Economica, N° 3, Camera di Commercio, Viterbo, 1991. V. D’Arcangeli, Carbognano, in Tuscia Viterbese. Rome 1968.
I. FALDI, Pittori viterbesi di cinque secoli. Rome 1970.
R. INNOCENZI, Carbognano, Viterbo, 2001.
F. MARTINELLI, Carbognano illustrated by Mr. Fioravante Martinelli. Rome, 1694. Unpublished Sources
Archivio Storico Comunale di Carbognano, Serie Antico Regime = ASCC, SAR Atti Deliberativi – Lib. Cons. SAR 2/6, September 30, 1607, cc. 153r – 154r.;
ASCC, SAR 2/7, October 18, 1610, cc. 36r – 36v.; or April 1, 1612, cc. 107r – 107v; and c. 142v.; February 3, 1614, c. 172v. 173r. ; 6 January 1620, cc. 93r – 94r. ASCC, SAR 2/9, March 28, 1620, cc. 145r – 146r.
Historical Archives of Viterbo, Notarile Carbognano =ASVIT, Not. Carbognano, Prot. 15, January 24, 1567, cc. 22 r, 24 r.; Prot. 20, August 26, 1580. cc. 45v. – 47v.; September 27, 1580. cc. 56r. 57r.; Prot. 25, June 23, 1591. cc. 132r. 133v.
Historical Diocesan Archive of Civita Castellana , Pastoral Visits, Mengacci Carbognano 1860-66, Fourth visit Mengacci, 1860-66, p. 143.