Located a short distance from the town center of Morra, which developed around the Romanesque Santa Maria Parish Church, stands the San Crescentino Oratory, built in 1420 to meet the worship needs of the homonymous Confraternity and expanded in its current form in 1507, as evidenced by the inscriptions on the façade. The Oratory is a true treasure trove of art that houses an interesting cycle of frescoes attributed to Luca Signorelli and his school. Most critics place the painting project between 1507 and 1510.
Tradition has it that the painter, moving from his hometown of Cortona to Città di Castello to meet the numerous work commissions, stopped in Morra, a usual stopping place for travelers. The building has a gabled façade with a portal surmounted by a lunette decorated with an intertwining pattern, a large window, and two side windows, opened in the seventeenth century.
The interior, covered with trusses, ends with a beautiful niche finely carved and frescoed by Signorelli; at the top, the Eternal Father is represented, holding the Book of Life, between two beautiful angels, Mary Magdalene and another saint. On the left wall, the large stone niche contains the fresco of the Madonna della Misericordia, with a clear Piero Francesca-inspired design.
At the top, fragments are visible: the Incredulity of Saint Thomas, the Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, the Prayer in the Garden, the Last Supper, and the Flagellation, which is certainly the most interesting fresco with its beautiful nude flagellants. Along the right wall, other episodes follow at the top: the Crucifixion, the Deposition from the Cross, the Descent of Jesus into Limbo, the Deposition in the tomb, and the Resurrection.
Of these frescoes, the Crucifixion, the Flagellation, and the high altar are considered the work of the master, while the others are attributed to his followers. The niche features the Madonna of Loreto. The current sacristy occupies the space of the original fifteenth-century oratory and contains traces of late Gothic frescoes attributed to a local painter inspired by Sienese-Aretine art.
In 1973, Alberto Burri, winner of the Feltrinelli Prize for Graphics, donated the entire amount awarded to him by the Accademia dei Lincei for the recovery of the San Crescentino Oratory and the restoration of the frescoes.
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