The Annunziata Church and the Museum of Religious Art

The oldest part of the building dates back to the 1265, the year in which the bishop from Ascoli gave permission to move the church of S. Paolo inside the city walls, since it was previously situated outside. In 1448, the Franciscan friars from the convent on the Hill gained possession of the church and in 1456 a new bell for the Annunziata Church was made, on which even today it is possible to spot the seal of the founder, Giovanni di Francesco da Venezia. In 1652, the Franciscan convent was closed down, thanks to the papal bull of Pope Innocenzo X (since it was a small convent) and the church was entrusted to the secular clergy. 

The entrance to the Annunziata Church (a single-aisle with no-apse church, adjacent to a small sacristy) is through a rough stone doorway, built into an unadorned façade.

The oldest fresco, located in a niche on the left side of the entrance to the church (directly on the left of the altar dedicated to S. Maria del Soccorso), depicts La Madonna col bambino affiancata da Santi (Virgin Mary with Child, surrounded by Saints) and it dates back to the late XV century.

All the other frescoes go back to the following century. The most valuable works belong to the Crivelli school, brought to light in the early 1900. The others, of no lesser value, were cleaned more recently from lime mortar. Of great importance are those on the right side of the entrance, immediatly on the right of the Addolorata altar, depicting in order: St. Lucia, La Madonna in trono con Bambino e S. Rocco (the Virgin Mary on throne with Child and St. Rocco), St. Sebastian pierced by arrows (the latter brought to light during the removal of the altar in August 2005).

The dedication of St. Rocco bears the date 1530 (and the dedicator’s name, Laudadeo). Of great interest are the figures of the Saints (S. Giuseppe frescoed on the north wall of the Presbytery, on the left of the main altar, commissioned in 1540 by a Madonna Chaterina Lelija), discovered in 1970. On the contrary, the large fresco into the niche on the back wall, on the right of the main altar, was never covered over. It depicts the Deposizione dalla Croce (the Removal from the Cross), in which the small figure of a friar can be seen on the right lower part, maybe being the purchaser of the work. It dates back to the 1530 and it has been attributed to Cola dell’Amatrice or to Maestro Bonfini from Patrignone. 

Great mention should be given to the most valuable painting of the church: the altarpiece, oil on panel, portraying St. Antonio Abate on throne, St. Antonio from Padua and St. Giobbe (m 2,25 × 1,70), work of art by Vincenzo Pagani (1490 -1568).

The Annunziata Church became then Museum of Religious Art, thanks to the artworks stored inside. In addition, on the upper floor of the building you can find the Antiquarium comunale “Niccola Pansoni”.

(Thanks to Camilla Beretta for the translation)

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