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Historical & Architectural Gems Historical & Architectural Gems


Magister Ursus
Magester Ursus
Abbazia di San Pietro in Valle
Otto III
Birds drinking from a chalice
mediavel signature

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Ferentillo - Abbazia di San Pietro in Valle

Ferentillo - Abbazia di San Pietro in Valle
Two Syrian hermits named Lazzaro and Giovanni had lived in the 5th century, where Faruald, Duke of Spoleto, founded this abbey within the 8th century "over the hermits´ tombs". In 724, Faroald's son Thrasimund rebelled and disposed his father into the monastery. For some generations the abbey was the burial ground for the Dukes of Spoleto

Saracen troops looted and destroyed the Benedictian abbey end of the 9th century, but Otto III ordered a rebuilding soon after. In 1016 the abbey was completed.

There is a long discussion about the church, as it may not have been "destroyed", but maybe was only "damaged" by the Saracens. In "Ombrie romane" Adriano Prandi cites a couple of scholars who date the church back to the 8th century, while he (taking in account the T-floorplan) dates it to the first half of the 11th. He actually connects this church to Cluny II and Saint Michael in Hldesheim, both completed somne decades before 1000.

When Otto III, son of Otto II and his wife Theophanu, marched through on 996 in his way to Rome, where he claimed the titles King of Italy and Holy Roman Emperor, he may have been accompanied by experienced and well travelled architects. They may have cared for the rebuilding of the church, that Otto III had ordered.

Here is a more detailed look on that sculpted slab´s signature seen on the previous upload.

There are two figures in a kind of "adorante gestus". Over the head of the right person are "Two Birds drinking from a Chalice", an icon often symbolizing baptism. The right person seems to juggle with balls. There is another inscription. Next to the hand on the left "UR", next to the hand of the right "SUS", then it continues. It reads:

"URSUS MAGESTER FECIT" = Master Ursus created this.