Village of Palagianello

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Crypt of Saint Gerolamo

Archeological sites

The original and partially walled-up entrance of the church is slopped in the western side. The elevation of the exterior part, is probably artificial, is due to the fenced-in pronaos  that was transformed into a vegetable garden by the transport of an  appropriate quantity of fertile soil. This garden encumbers the entryway so that in the last years a communication door with the nearby southern area was opened in correspondence to the second right niche of the waterlogged. The original entrance was a reduced arch with a mouldable lintel. The southern entrance has on its facade an arcosolium  excavated in the rock and beside it there are traces of another one. The inside of the waterlogged is a big trapezoidal area with a smaller eastern base on the entryway side and a greater base on the western side adjacent to the three apses. The ceiling has a flat surface. Three accessible arches considered as a triforium obliquely divide the waterlogged in the norther-southern direction. Immediately in the eastern side of these the caesura between the two walls is observed by the elevation of a stair of 30 cm. high on which the pillars stand. In the frontal part of the triforium the line is not straight but it creates a curve which vaguely outlines a circumference arch. If the three arches are really a triforium but in the next paragraph it will be demonstrated that they are not, it is legitimate by Diehl’s interpretation that it is a big porch (in the eastern side of the arches) followed by a narrow chapel ( in the western side). This analogy with arches of the same type induces us to consider that it is an iconostasis so that the eastern part as to be considered a bema while the western part a square. The southern wall of this area has two niches with orthogonal base and reduced arches. The former niche still preserves the superior part of a fresco (the head and the shoulders of a hermit Saint half-naked represented with pure-white hair and beard; the exegetical description has been destroyed) dated about the end of the XIV c., and at his feet there are traces of a preserved bench probably with a seat function; the latter niche, greatly damaged as said before by the opening of a door. The fresco on the background is completely destroyed and unrecoverable. On the northern wall, in the opposite side of the two niches there are two accessible arches  (the partial blockage made by a stoned balustrade is to be considered recent) which enabled the entrance to a parecclesion whose function is not very clear. It has a vaguely trapezoidal  base and is divided into two spans with a reduced arch.  The ceiling is flat and in the walls there are orthogonal niches with reduced arches, the narrowest is that one on the eastern wall that maybe had an apse function. On the northern wall the two niches present a bay on which the rests of Saint Vescovo fresco are visible, as it is possible to be understood by a cross pallium. Inside the church on the eastern side of the three arches of the iconostasis on whose pillars it is possible to read numerous and interesting inscriptions, among them some give information on the dedication of the altars, there are a series of extremely interesting statements for their exceptionality as ornamental sculptures and sinopie frescos that probably had never been painted. One of these sinopie is positioned in the eastern niche beside the southern side of the bema representing the figure of a probable male. Traces of the sinopie have not been observed in the western niche on the same southern side that probably was never frescoed. There are clearly visible traces of sinopie in the soffit of the southern arch of the iconostasis and also, in stops and starts, and badly preserved, on the bema’s ceiling. The only well preserved fresco in the whole waterlogged is a Virgin with Baby Jesus, of Glykophilousa type, frescoed in the only big niche excavated in the northern side of the bema. It is not dated before the end of the XIV century but more probably the XV. The big eastern wall is unusually separated in five parts, the two extreme parts are orthogonal niches where there are two altars, the middle parts are interesting for the presence of decorative sculptures and there are two minor niches positioned on a high decorated base as a transenna, the central  one is a typical visited sanctuary, similar to the bema of SS Eremiti, with a trapezoidal minor base corresponding to the entry arch and slightly major curved base corresponding to the western wall composed of three segments.  The surface of the sanctuary floor is higher compared to the bema where at the height of 105cm., there is the base line of a semicircular little niche. This little niche occupies the median section of the bottom wall which used to cover the now missing altar. All the arches are decorated with lintels. The oblique sides of the sanctuary have each an orthogonal niche without fresco traces. On the eastern bottom wall, instead, two painted and superimposed plaster coats are preserved with linear frames. It is evident that, unlike other similar monuments, in Saint Girolamo waterlogged the destructive interventions or only the radical ones have been relatively insufficient and irrelevant.   
The frescos and the sinopie.
A- Saint Eremita
Position: southern wall of the square.
Original dimensions not evaluable; width 60 cm.
Monochromatic fresco, ochre over white.
B- Anonymous Saint
Position: southern wall of the bema.
Sinopie painted directly on the rock. The same technique was used for the Pantocrator of Mottola’s Saint Gregorio.
C- The Virgin with Baby Jesus
Position: northern wall of the bema.
Dimension: 170 cm. high and 120 cm. wide
Exegetical inscription n.1
D- Fresco traces
Position: bottom wall of the apse.
There only remain traces of frames.
E- Saint Vescovo
Position: northern wall of the parecclesion.
Dimensions: 80 cm. high; 74 cm. wide
There are visible pallium crosses and traces of clothes.

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