The healing sanctuaries of Umbria; between the sacred and the profane

Church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul in Cancelli di Foligno

The church of Holy Apostles Peter and Paul owes its foundation to the healing of sciatica.

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The "Camera degli Apostoli"
To attend the ritual, you must enter the room called the "Camera degli Apostoli"  (Chamber of the Apostles) behind the largest altar: the sick person is held by wooden supports embedded in the wall, while the healer, invoking Saints Peter and Paul, makes the sign of the cross and brushes the body with the hands. This power, under ecclesiastical authority, can also be performed outside of the sanctuary, but only by healers from Cancelli  with a patent issued from the bishopric Curia of Foligno.
The documentation is truly impressive and the attestations received about the healings performed are authoritative: the practices, banned by the Council of Trent, were severely prohibited in 1586 by the Bishop of Foligno Marco Antonio Bizzoni, but he removed the prohibition when he himself was stricken with sciatica and needed the help of the Cancelli to be healed.
The Church of Holy Apostles Peter and Paul owes its foundation to the fame received from the healing of sciatica, which the firstborn sons of the Cancelli family performed in a small room in their home town.  In the middle of the 17th century, the flow of pilgrims was such that a church in the form of an oratory had to be built. 
The building soon became insufficient to hold the faithful, and it was necessary to construct a massive sanctuary because a large part of the population heard Mass outside of the oratory, as stated in the foundation document of June 30th 1744, kept in the bishopric chancellery of Foligno.                              
The present sanctuary of Cancelli was built between 1744 and 1765 on behalf of Foligno bishop Mario Antonio Maffei, on a project attributed to the Foligno architect, Filippo Neri. The large altarpiece that represents Saints Peter and Paul is the work of Claude Francois Beaumont, who donated it to the sanctuary. 
Of all the Umbrian therapeutic sanctuaries, the one in Cancelli presents the uniqueness of developing in modern times under the pressure of the ecclesiastic hierarchy, on behalf the Cancelli family which has handed down through the centuries, from father to son, the power to "mark" whoever suffers from sciatica by the placement of the hands.