10. St Magno’s Crypt - Part 1

Welcome to the world-renowned Crypt of St Magno. This has been, since its very origin, a place of worship and art, a place of pilgrimage and a place for people seeking sanctuary, charity and hope. It is also a portal into the Middle Ages, a time when light and colour were a means to understand the celestial realm.

The Crypt was built by order of Bishop Peter of Salerno at the same time as the Cathedral, between 1072 and 1104. Its purpose was to house the Cathedral’s most precious and sacred legacy: saints’ relics. These were placed within each of the five altars. In order from entrance towards exit, we have St Oliva’s altar, then that of the Saints Secondina, Aurelia and Noemisia. The main altar is St Magno’s, followed by the altar dedicated to all martyr saints and finally the altar which houses the relics of St Peter of Salerno himself.

The Crypt has three naves, positioned transversally compared to those of the Church above, and three apses. Twelve columns support twenty one vaults, decorated, as are the walls, by an exquisite series of paintings which illustrate the story of the Salvation of Man, starting from the creation of mankind to the end of time. The actual artists behind the fresco masterpiece are unknown. They are simply known as First Maestro of Anagni or ‘Transfer’ Maestro, Second Maestro of Anagni or ‘Ornamentist’ Maestro and Third Maestro of Anagni.

The whole sequence, covering 540 square metres, was completed by 1231. In that same year, Cosma di Jacopo di Lorenzo finished the flooring of the Crypt and signed the commemorative plaque which is now mounted onto the wall in front of the main altar, right underneath the painting of Christ Pantocrator among Saints.