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Santa Maria delle Rose, in Assisi

The church of Santa Maria delle Rose stands on the foundations of the Roman wall that runs behind the Temple of Minerva, which is why it is called Santa Maria del Sopramura and also Santa Maria Minore to distinguish it from Santa Maria Maggiore at the Piazza del Vescovado.

The earliest documents date from 1198, when the church was assigned by Pope Innocent III to the possessions of the bishop of Assisi. A plaque on the facade commemorates that Bishop Marco Palmerini reconsecrated it in 1726.

In the early nineteenth century, Architect Antolini discovered there the remains of a pagan temple -perhaps dedicated to Mithra or Vesta– that would lie beneath the floor that now houses the Alpha Omega structure of the MARIA Exhibit.

The remains of the pagan temple indicate that the temple existed even before the Carolingian reconstruction of the City in the eighth century.

The research of Arcangelo Papi, lawyer, archaeologist, and director of lead us to a tombstone from the Umbrian era dating back to the 3rd – 2nd century B.C. The tombstone reveals two magical “stories” paired with each other, one can grasp it from the examination of the details, remarkable and surprising. It is worth noting that on the left appears the dual face of a nocturnal deity and on the right, a diurnal epiphany occurs in a forest, due to the fall of a meteorite (many are collected in Assisi).

This tombstone represents the interweaving or weave with dual trends-direct and inverted- of the internal frieze that adorns the tympanum of Assisi’s magnificent Temple of Minerva, at an altitude immediately below the terrace above Santa Maria delle Rose, a virgin archaeological area, which could not be cultivated any further in the early 1800.
The ancient Umbrian-Roman arch of Santa Maria delle Rose, is perfectly oriented to the south, looking toward Bevagna and Rome.

As per the most recent confirmation in 2022 by the Chapter of the Cathedral of San Rufino, the church of Santa Maria delle Rose has never been deconsecrated, even so, no liturgy has taken place there for more than 70 years.

The precise indication of the place is the archaeological area of Santa Maria delle Rose along with other, significant images, which point to the triumphal entrance to a “sacred forest” and not to an urban gate of the ancient Umbrian-Roman city wall in the upper part of the city (Squared Assisi).

Madonna delle Rose (estimated XIX Century)
This fresco is present at the church nowadays. The 1993 earthquake damaged seriously the church. Thanks to an anonymous donor its restoration was achieved in 1997 and the fresco in 1999.

Madonna del Rosario (1581)
The Confraternita del SS Rosario commissioned this altarpiece, which is dated by inscription, for their altar in Santa Maria delle Rose. It is attributed to Lorenzo Doni (the son of Dono Doni).
The altarpiece is now in the Diocesan Museum at San Rufino Cathedral.

Photographs courtesy by