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Church of St John and St Paul   (Chiesa di SS. Giovanni e Paolo)

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This little church stands in the center of Spoleto in the area known as the Vaita Filitteria, a Byzantine quarter during the Middle Ages. It was built out of ashlar stone and reused material from the Roman era. An inscription preserved inside the church dates the foundation to 1174, although thanks to recent excavations, it has been discovered that the church we see today was built on a previous religious building, which was found in the space currently occupied by the crypt. The church is accessed through a very narrow door decorated with a lunette. The external façade, of very simple design, is decorated in the upper part by a circular rose window with a cross inside and a square frame. On the external left wall there is still a beautiful fresco of the Madonna and Four Saints, which is unfortunately in bad condition. Inside there is a single nave with a presbytery, built in the sixteenth century, raised above the crypt (which is not accessible today) and there are numerous frescoes datable to a period between the 12th and 16th centuries. On the left wall, The Martyrdom of Thomas Becket from Canterbury, dating from the 13th century, is particularly noteworthy. This extraordinary work constitutes one of the very rare representations of the murder of the English bishop, recalling his controversy with the Chancellor of the Kingdom of England, Henry II. The event could also be interpreted in reference to the history of the city, connecting it to the struggle between empire and the papacy for sovereignty over the Duchy of Spoleto. On the right wall there is another valuable fresco representing Herod’s Banquet and the Dance of Salome. Another masterpiece depicting the Martyrdom of Saints John and Paul was detached from a wall of the crypt in 1961 and is now preserved in the National Museum of the Duchy at the Villa Albornoziana. The most recent frescoes are attributed to the local prelate and artist Pier Matteo Piergili, who worked in the small church in the sixteenth century.

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