The Church of Saint John of the Flagellants: history and construction
The original church was built around 1346 by the Confraternity of the Flagellants, who, in 1325, had built a hospital and a hospice nearby for the needy, the sick, and pilgrims.
The Romanesque-Gothic church was consecrated in 1361. The steeple was added in 1487. The church was reconstructed between 1500 and 1746. The loggia with Gothic arches – where the people gathered to protest against feudal dominance – was demolished in 1875.
The current structure
Today, it is a Baroque-style single-nave church with a rectangular plan. The frescoes on the ceiling (1746) represent the Assumption of the Virgin, The Distribution of Alms, and the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist, all by Giuseppe Buzzi, who reproduced the frescoes by Tiepolo in the Cathedral of San Daniele del Friuli, near Udine.
The polychrome marble high altar is located in front of the fresco depicting the Crucifixion, which was brought back to light at a later stage. The fresco was made by a 15th-century French painter, and is a masterful expression of the dramatic scene. The church houses two paintings – the Adoration of the Shepherds and the Adoration of the Three Kings – and a 1588 altarpiece depicting Mary’s Visit to Elizabeth, which belonged to Gaspare Narvesa.
The church also features three finely-made 18th-century altars and a wooden crucifix carved by Giacomo Onesti.
On the outside, you can admire the stone portal topped by the coat of arms of the Confraternity of the Flagellants (raised index and middle finger) and the cartouche with the Latin words indicating the dual nature of the Lamb of God. The words from the gospels “arate viam domini” (prepare the way of the Lord) are carved on the architrave.
Today, the church is dedicated to the victims of all wars.