Abbazia di San Mercuriale

The Abbey of San Mercuriale with the famous bell tower.

The Basilica Abbey of San Mercuriale is the main religious building in Forlì, in Romagna (northern Italy); the rather smaller cathedral was largely destroyed by fire in the 19th century.

History and overview

A first church was built here in the 4th century AD, dedicated to St. Stephen. It was destroyed by a fire in 1173. The dedication to Saint Mercurialis, the local martyr and patron, had appeared since the 9th century. In 1176 the edifice was assigned to the Vallumbrosan Order.

The current edifice was finished in 1180 in Lombard-Romanesque style, along with the famous bell tower. The latter, with its height of 75 m, is one of the tallest in Italy. In the 13th century it was considered one of the marvels of the Kingdom of Italy.

The abbey, which once was located outside the ancient Roman city, was included in a new line of walls in that period. In the 15th century the Vallumbrosans' cloister was annexed to the construction: it has a rectangular shape and is decorated by slender columns, with a central well that can still be seen.

The apse of the church was rebuilt in 1585. Of the same period is also the wooden choir, designed by Alessandro Bigni from Bergamo. The façade and the bell tower are in brickwork. The former is decorated with arcades supported by columns. The magnificent rose window over the main portal portrays the Epiphany with Dream and Adoration of the Magi, and is attributed to the so-called Master of the Months, who was active also in the cathedral of Ferrara.

The interior houses numerous works of art. The most famous is the Sepulchre of Barbara Manfredi, the young wife of Pino III Ordelaffi, lord of Forlì. It was carved by Francesco di Simone Ferrucci from Fiesole. The sepulchre was once housed by the church of San Biagio, which was destroyed during World War II.

Other points of interest include:

  • Sacrament Chapel


  1. See A.Colombi Ferretti, L.Prati, U.Tramonti, Il complesso monumentale di San Mercuriale a Forlì. Restauri, Comune di Forlì, Forlì 2000, pp. 14 ss.

External links

Coordinates: 44°13′20″N 12°2′30″E / 44.22222°N 12.04167°E / 44.22222; 12.04167

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