The Sant’Angelo in Spatha Church in Viterbo is one of the oldest churches in the city. For many years the tomb of the Bella Galliana was preserved in this church, which is located between the Via Roma and the central Piazza del Plebiscito square.
Sant’Angelo in Spatha Church Viterbo
Address and opening hours
The address of the Chiesa di Sant’Angelo in Spatha is Piazza del Plebiscito – 01100 Viterbo. Opening hours: Unknown.
History and description
The Sant’Angelo in Spatha is a very old church, but it was completely rebuilt in the 18th century. It is dedicated to San Michele Arcangelo and the name Spatha derives from the family that bought the church in the 12th century.
The church was probably built between 1178 and 1188, but because of the many renovations hardly anything of the original structure remains.
A large cemetery in front of the church itself had to make way when the municipal offices Palazzo dei Priori and Palazzo del Podestà were built.
The first version of the church, like many churches at the time, consisted of three naves ending in apses.
In 1549, both the façade and the bell tower collapsed. Restoration work was completed in 1560. Pius IV was then pope and it is also his coat of arms that can be seen on the façade, next to that of the city and that of the Piccolomini family, who had paid part of the reconstruction.
The present interior consists of a single nave, as a result of a restoration in the 18th century.
Tomb of the “Beautiful Galliana”
The Tomb of the Beautiful Galliana used to be located inside the church itself. Galliana was a very extraordinarily beautiful woman who lived in the Casa Poscia. A Roman man, who was in love with her, asked her to marry him, and when his proposal was refused he had the city besieged. Finally, he promised that he would return to Rome if he could behold Galliana one more time. Galliana showed herself from a tower and the Roman, unable to stomach the fact that he would never see her again, killed her with an arrow.
Nowadays, to the right of the entrance, only a picture of the sarcophagus in which this fair lady was buried remains, while the tomb itself is preserved in the Museo Civico of Viterbo. It is decorated with a haut-relief depicting the hunting of a wild boar, after a Roman original from the 3rd century.
What to see inside the church
Andrea di Giovanni painted the “Madonna and Child,” the central part of a triptych (14th century).
Filippo Caparozzi was responsible for the “Madonna with Child and Saints” near the main altar.