The church stands outside the city walls, near the Amphitheatre, and is a wonderful example of an Umbrian Romanesque church, as it has preserved almost unchanged the characteristics of Franciscan artistic forms of the period between the 12th and 13th centuries. In short, as the local historian Dazio Pasquini asserted “one of the few churches in Spello that did not have the money to become baroque …”.
According to a document dated 1178, the church belonged to the abbey of San Silvestro di Collepino, of the Camaldolese order. Before 1393 it passed into the ownership of the community of Spello, although they continued to pay an annual fee to the monks of San Silvestro.
From the end of the 14th century onwards, after the pope released the plenary indulgence to the church of Spello, it became a popular religious centre. Fairs were held there, which required the construction of two porticoes on the sides of the building.
The terrible earthquake of 1832 damaged the structure, which was subsequently renovated, as it was again in the 20th century. Following the 1997 earthquake, additional work was carried out, including the restoration of the frescoes, completed in 2009.
The facade of the church of San Claudio, in white limestone, is interesting, as it’s slightly asymmetrical; on the upper part there is a magnificent rose window, flanked by two mullioned windows. Finally, at the top stands a bell gable on two levels, where the bells once were; there are two statues of eagles, one at each end, now headless.
The interior of the church has three aisles, divided on the right by columns and on the left by pillars on which there are full-length frescoes of San Claudio holds his working tools: a set square, a chisel and a hammer. In the apse we find the altar, composed of the lid of a sarcophagus.
The interior walls of the building were almost entirely painted, but today only a few traces remain, including the cycle of frescoes by Cola di Petruccioli, the ‘Mistero della Redenzione’ in the presbytery and traces of a Crucifixion in the dome of the apse.