Castelseprio (VA) - Santa Maria Foris Portas, 8th century AD
The Early Medieval church of Santa Maria foris portas was built on hilly ground outside the defensive wall, right in front of the tower.
The current building, with a single room, a trussed roof and walls made of river cobbles and re-used blocks, dates mostly to the 11th century.
Some specialists maintain that the first Early Medieval church also had just one room, as well as a crypt with an ambulatory that could be entered from two lateral staircases, partly hewn out of the bedrock and partly built of re-used material. Recent excavations have brought to light the crypt, stairways and several fragments of 8th century frescoes. The eastern apse contains renowned wall paintings that portray Christ’s childhood and stories concerning his incarnation, inspired by the canonical and apocryphal gospels, that illustrate the dogma of Christ’s becoming flesh and his dual nature, both human and divine.
The wall-painting remains present inside the church demonstrate that each building phase was accompanied by frescoes: the north and south walls preserve portions of scenes painted in the 11th century, which appear to have occupied two registers.
The external graveyard and the tombs inside the building show that this church was used for centuries for burial purposes; the first phase dates to the mid-8th century and slightly later.