Calvi dell'Umbria

Presepe Monumentale e Oratorio di Sant'Antonio - Calvi dell'Umbria

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The interior of this church, ancient seat of the St. Anthony’s Confraternity, hosts in the bowl-shaped vault of the apse the monumental crib made of polychromatic terracotta and including more than 30 statues, executed between 1541 and 1546 by the brothers Giacomo and Raffaele da Montereale from Abruzzo.

Two niches on the sides of the vault host the statues of St. Anthony Abbot and St. Rocco, patrons of the same confraternity and invoked against the plague. The current location of the crib is not the original one: indeed, in order to allow for the execution of the back choir of the monastery, in the 1740s it was necessary to shorten this church, the crib was disassembled and then relocated into the new apse on two levels, similarly to its original location.
The Nativity is represented in the lower registry: at the centre of the scene there are St. Joseph and the Madonna kneeling down and adoring the Child Jesus. On the left there is a bagpipe player whereas on the right two female peasants. Behind the central group there are four angels. Evident is the qualitative disparity among the figures of the Madonna, of St. Joseph and of the young female peasant, attributable to the masters, compared to the other ones, that are instead an artwork of their pupils. 
The second register contains the Procession of the Magi travelling towards Bethlem and is divided into two wide steps: on the lower one there are the three Kings on horseback bringing the gifts, on the upper level there is instead a parade of six figures, partly on foot and partly on horseback, one of whom overlooking the inner of the representation. Four musician angels are hanging from the vault onto the scene. Peculiar is the presence of a male figure sitting on the edge of the upper bowl-shaped vault of the apse, with the legs dangling in emptiness. This figure has been interpreted both as a young man in the moment of removing a thorn from his foot, a Hellenic and classical theme, and as the angry devil in the moment of tearing a foot by himself for the birth of the Saviour.
After the recent restoration works, two frescoes of the 16th century have been brought again to light. The first one represents St. Agata and St. Biagio and the second one St. Anthony Abbot and St. Lucia, belonging to the original painted decoration of the Church.


Source: www.calviturismo.it