Village of Palagianello

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Crypt of SS. Eremiti

Archeological sites

About 300 meters to the north of the apogean chapel Saint Nicola, the small church SS Eremiti is positioned on the same eastern slope of the gravine. It stands out for an elaborated and accurate façade, obtained by the chiseling of the rock also to extend the space in front of it which is still existent at the point of superimposition of the Pliocene tuff to the compact calcareous ones half way up the slope, difficult to climb because it is 12 meters higher than the bottom of the gravine. The person who is looking from the opposite side, from the right to the left, can see two high pointed arch recesses, which aren’t deep, the entryway to the church, architraved  but enclosed in a pointed arch of the same height of the recesses; then on the left again, a recess –  shorter, narrower and deeper than other two on the right of the entryway to the church – near which there are two caves, greatly damaged. Looking closer, the recesses on the right disclose sepulchral arcosolium; there are evident traces of two graves – one for each recess – oriented in north-south direction, excavated for a long time. The smallest recess – on the left of the entryway – appears rehashed; it is improbable, anyway, that it was a grave arcosolium; in that case it could have contained, in its width of 1,40 meters, only a child’s body. The caves nearby could testify the existence of an ancient hamlet for hermits. The church entryway is meticulously well-preserved: on the bottom of an high pointed arch where an architraved door  opens . A stair 30cm high, stops the meteoric waters from being waterlogged and has the planking level at the same level of the exterior one, 30 cm lower than the stair edge. The trapezoidal courtroom with flat plane ceiling is extremely simple. A big recess with reduced arch is situated in the northern wall. Along it, there are traces of a saved bench – may-be with a seat function – 30 cm wide and perhaps originally of the same height. Saved on the bottom wall where in the center there is a greatly reduced arch by which it is possible to enter the bema – two artifacts are present: the one on the left, on a rectangular base was hollowed at its top in a prismatic bowl shape, about 30cm deep; the destruction of a part of the frontal wall allowed the bowl to be seen as an excavated stone seat; the one on the right is a prismatic little pillar smaller than the others which, at the top, has a circular hole of 15cm of diameter. Between it and the big irregular hole there is a detailed trapezoidal bench. A high stair goes up to the bema entryway through a reduced arched door. Over the altar, isolated by the bottom wall there is a frescoed parabolic recess with a gamma cross which has in its little squares the letters: M I B X.
The frescoes represent: the one on the left of the altar Saint Eustachio riding a horse while piercing a deer, and between its horns Christ’s bust appears and his words <<IT=Placido perchè mi insegui?>>, <<Placid, why are you chasing me?>> that are painted in the same direction of the Saint’s head, on the right of the Archangel Gabriele who is holding a scepter and a globe. Different from other cave churches, the church of SS Eremiti has a beautiful decorated façade even if the arches were built  to obtain some tombs. Once through the doorway the church appears relatively untouched in its original structure. Its extremely simple iconography (two trapezoids), its volumetric linear and rigorous shape, the same arches of the niche on the left wall and the ones on the entryway to the recess, greatly reduced, give a sense of peace and tranquility.

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