Set off on a historical and spiritual journey along the ancient Via Flaminia, the consular road that connected Rome to Rimini, on the stretch that crosses Umbria, where the history of the Catholic Church has traced a deep furrow: we take you to get to know the area of Massa Martana and its ancient and modern treasures.
Start by observing what is one of the oldest bits of evidence, the Vicus Martis Tudertinum, the remains of a settlement dating back to the 3rd century B.C., when the Via Flaminia was also built. It is an agglomeration of buildings with all the architectural features of an ancient village or rural village. The vicus rose near a branch that connected the route to Via Amerina and then to Todi.
Using an ancient Roman building, in the 7th-8th centuries A.D. the Church of Santa Maria in Pantano was built, the second stop of the route. The church also annexed a monastery built by Benedictine monks who reclaimed the area which was often flooded by the Tribbio stream (hence the name "In Pantano", in the marsh). Inside the church stop to look at the funerary stone, found in the surroundings of the Vicus Martis Tudertinum.
Now head in the direction of Villa San Faustino, but make a small stop to admire the ancient Roman bridge, the Ponte Fonnaia: it is built with a single arch, in large blocks of perfectly squared travertine. The bridge was built by the Romans in 220 and allowed the Via Flaminia, whose route is still well preserved and visible through the nearby fields, to cross the small tributary of the Naia.
Nearby is the small village of Villa San Faustino, where the beautiful Abbey of San Faustinois located. Around the 8th century, the Benedictine monks built a church and a monastery on the Saint's tomb. Unfortunately, the ancient Lombard-style façade has been disfigured by a modern portico, but it still has an elegant three-mullioned window with marble columns flanked by the Latin epigraph.
Head now to Grotta Traiano, where you can visit one of the most important historical finds: the catacomb of Villa San Faustino, recently restored and open to the public. It is the only known Christian catacombs in Umbria and was surely built by a well-populated Christian community of nearby settlement, considering that about 300 burials have been recorded. The underground structure is composed of a main corridor from which four lateral tunnels depart symmetrically; their walls have rows of overlapping burial niches, some of which are intended for the burial of children.
Conclude your journey at the Shrine of Merciful Love in Collevalenza where there is one of the Holy Doors of the Jubilee of Mercy: the shrine was built in 1953 on the wishes of Blessed Mother Hope as a place of prayer for the faithful who want to meet the merciful love of the Lord. The tomb of the Blessed Mother, in the crypt of the Shrine, is a mosaic dome that embraces the earth, indicating the love of Mother Hope.