di Santa Maria della Rocca - Offida
The Church of Santa Maria della Rocca is perched on a hill in the
outskirts of the town. It stands
imposing and majestic in its romanic-gothic style.
It can be accessed through a rising staircase. From the hill, that was
once site for a Longobardian castle, it is possible to see all the
countryside around Offida. In 1039 the castle and the small annexed church
were donated to the Abbey of Farfa by a noble man from Offida, Longino
D’Azzona that was of French or German origins.
the epigraph on the church wall states, the castle was demolished in order
to enlarge the ancient church in 1330. It was attached to a bigger
This can be seen from the side passages that run along the crypt. They
were created by the spare space between the ancient walls and the new ones.
church outside is in bricks and travertine buttresses that lighten the
apse. The quadrangular side tower bell that ends in an octagonal cusp was
rebuilt smaller than it was after the damages by the 1943 earthquake.
The church is characterized by a Romanic-Gothic three-navy crypt
whose access is through a travertine door dating back to the XIV
main apse is decorated with frescoed dating back to the Fourteenth century.
Some of them are by Maestro Ugolino
di Vanne from Milan that is thought been a disciple of Andrea da
The 'Vergine con il Figlio e S.Antonio abate’ depiction is one of his
works and it dates back to 1423.
It is interesting also to note the works by Maestro
di Offida (sec. XIV-XV) in the crypt. Two of the most famous paintings
are "Madonna con Bambino e due angeli» and “Sposalizio mistico di Santa Caterina”.
of the Higher
Chiesa frescoes are also attributed to the artist from Offida.
Those are “Sepoltura di Gesù” and
The former is on the right side of the church, the latter in the ambo,
that can be accessed through a staircase cut in the wall.
The building of the upper part that develops on a Latin cross plant and
single navy was concluded in XVI century.
Historians maintain that the works were started in order to use the
inferior crypt to bury the dead. They had in fact increased in number
after the plague in 1511.
The two storeys were independent from each other once, nowadays there is
an access to the higher church through a winding staircase.
staircase in bricks also leads to the higher church.
single navy is lighted by two oblongs windows in the apse. The walls are
austere and are not decorated.
The half dome covering the apse is decorated with a well preserved
depiction of the "Seven
Prophets, Eight Holy Virgins, Ten singing Angels”.
At the right
end of the church there is the baptismal font where blessed Ibernando di
Offida was said to have been baptized.
hill where Santa Maria Della Rocca is perched has undergone several reinforcing
interventions. The first reinforcement
was carried out in 1887. A wall was built to strengthen the North side of
the hill. Rain caused several
damages in 1914 and 1917. The roof of the church had to be restored and
the trusses replaced.
Recently (1972-73) two
lead covers with sepulchral inscriptions (now kept at the Sovraintendenza,
Monumenti di Ancona) that probably belonged to Longino D’Azzone’s wife
and daughter have been found during some diggings in the church.
Santa Maria Della
Rocca Church was re-opened to the public on 2nd
June 1986. The frescoes had all been restored, together with the roof and
floors. The historical and spiritual treasure of the church came back to