I dipinti murali della grotta di S. Michele al Monte Tancia: una storia da ricostruire

Author: Eliana Billi

Mural paintings in the Monte Tancia sanctuary in Sabina: a history to recognize

The mural paintings that decorate the Monte Tancia cave sanctuary in Sabina, are very precious testimony to the reconstruction of the holy story of the cave. The decoration extends over all the walls and also on a stone ciborium; it was made in two different periods.
The first decorative phase is linked to the dispute for the property rights of the sanctuary occurred in the 1049 between Bernardo Abbot of the Farfa abbey and the bishop of Sabina Giovanni. The story is written by Gregorio di Catino in the Chronicon of Farfa.
The iconography of this decoration shows the bond between the bishopric of Sabina, the figure of the bishop Giovanni and the Roman cathedral and its authority.
The second and most recent decorative stage was not considered by past studies and can be actually reconstructed by setting a link between the second painted layer of the ciborium and the San Michele votive panel; they both are the product of a group of local painters during the fifteenth century, amongs which Pietro Colberti was the main character.
A new artistic flowering was promoted by the pope Martino V in Rome and also involved the most influential social categories and religious communities of Lazio. This renewal produces new artistic vitality in several places of Christianity, like the Tancia sanctuary. The sanctuary located on the most important ancient route connecting Rieti and Rome increases its importance for Christian worship of which the second decorative phase is a testimonial.