The oldest relevant information of the small church dates from the middle of the 9th century, when Pope Leon IV mentioned the place and its significant assets in an honor directed to Virobono, the bishop of Tuscany. The Parish Church of San Pietro and its dependencies, one of which is the ecclesiam S. Pancratii in Nocerino, were located in the area of Montefiascone.
Info: Parish 0761/826567.
CHURCH OF SAN PANCRAZIO IN NUCERINO
The oldest relevant information of the small church dates from the middle of the 9th century, when Pope Leon IV mentioned the place and its significant assets in an honor directed to Virobono, the bishop of Tuscany. The Parish Church of San Pietro and its dependencies, one of which is the ecclesiam S. Pancratii in Nocerino, were located in the area of Montefiascone. The origin of the Pre-Romanesque church is demonstrated by the fragments of the archway placed above the main beam of the gate and the remains of the frame of a lancet window in the upper left half of the facade that is now bricked over. After the church was abandoned by the monks of the parish, in 1143 the bishop of Tuscany, Rodolfo, gave its assets to Benedict, who was in charge of the Church of Santa Lucia which was also located in the valley of the lake and to the canonical people of San Giovanni in Laterano. In this way, the Church of San Pancrazio became recognized as one of the Cappelle della Plebe di San Pietro [chapels of the common people of San Pietro]. These assets, then including the church of San Pancrazio, would be later entrusted to the church of Santa Margherita, by means of the Cum illius of Urbano V, a law made by the Pope. With this law Montefiascone was elevated to the rank of city and the church of Santa Margherita was designated as a cathedral of the diocese. As such, this law designated all of the assets and the dependencies that became part of the chapter. Subsequently, San Pancrazio likely became a rural church used by the people of the area. In fact, this is described in the report of the Pastoral Visit of 1630 carried out by Gaspare Cecchinelli, the bishop of Montefiasone and Corneto. The small church, that continued to be tied to the chapter of the cathedral even in the eighteenth century, was closed for worship in the early years of the twentieth century.
The small church has a very compact structure. The dissimilarity of form, color, and arrangement of the ashlars [finely cut stones] of the stonework is evidence of the numerous alterations that tampered with the original structure of the building over time. The front facade has a single central entrance architrave [beam with molding across columns, framing a door] on top of the fragments of a round arch. In some ashlars on the sides of the portal there are small, carved crosses. Above the door, a rectangular window allows interior lighting. In the middle of the front of the church survive the remains of a covered lancet window. The southern side of the church is supported at the far ends by two buttresses. Above the buttresses on the east side stands a small bell tower with a bell, while near the western buttresses an architraved door allows access to a room on which the church stands. For the most part dug in the tuff stone, this area shows traces of masonry work that can be dated to Roman times. A window on the side opposite to the entrance is the only source of light. The apse [termination of the main building at the liturgical east end], whose semicircular profile is interrupted on the south part by a retaining wall, has a covered entrance located at a level lower than that of the church. At the center of the structure there opens a small round-headed, double splayed [whose frame is set at an angle with respect to the wall] lancet window. The eastern end of the north side, just under the eaves, has four small shelves that hold what remains of a molded cornice [ornamental molding just below the ceiling], each decorated with a different theme; a kind of very flat leaf, a single spiral, a circular adornment and a double spiral. On this side, placed against the building, there is also a rectangular structure with a separate entrance covered by a vaulted roof. It functions as a sacristy [where a priest prepares for a service and where vestments are kept] and is connected to the church through an opening located near the apse.
The interior consists of a unique nave, a slightly raised chancel, and a semicircular apse. In the middle part of the apse a small lancet window opens close to the east of the building. The apse is the only part of the church that shows traces of painted decoration. The fresco, in a poorly preserved state, depicts The Crucifixion, flanked by San Pancrazio and Santa Margherita. The dove of the Holy Spirit is illustrated above the cross. A floral decorative runs across the bottom, some fragments of which remain even in the adjacent part of the apse. Another decorative motif, in the form of a star, is strewn across the entirety of the semi-domed vault. To close the painting of the apse, there must have been a sculpted frame of which there are only some fragments visible. San Pancrazio Church (3) It is one of the oldest churches first mentioned into a privilege of Pope Leo IV in 852 and dedicated to St Pancrazio (young peasant martyr) under the name “in Nocerino” because of a probable wood of nut trees near the church. The building shows signs of three different historical periods of construction overtime. The large blocks of tufa stone are evidence of the first period. They are placed horizontally with a thin layer of mortar”. Four shel-ves with sty-lized decorations under the ea-ves on the north side testify the origin of the early Romanesque church. Under the church there is a room excavated in the rock upon which the church was then built in order to incorporate it. The latter is probably connected to ancient rupestrian settlements of Benedictine monks.
G. Breccola – M. Mari, Montefiascone, Grotte di Castro 1979.
S. Bracaccini, Montefiascone medievale. Il borgo e la valle pergolata, tesi di laurea, Università degli Studi della Tuscia di Viterbo, A.A. 1996-1997.
G. Breccola, Montefiascone. Guida alla scoperta, Montefiascone 2006.