The Church of “S. Maria della Pietà” derives its name from the wooden Crucifix moved into it from “S. Benedetto’s Church” at the end of 1800’s. It is bound to the legend of Pietro Barliario which recounts that the repentent sinner after praying constantly for three days in front of the crucifix, saw Christ bow his head and open his eyes. The “Table” dates back as far as the middle of the ’13th century and its value lies in the traces of Byzantine influences it bears. Even thought the “Tavola” was almost destroyed in a fire, it has recently been restored and is held in the Diocesan Museum for safekeeping.
The Church is early Crhistian in character which would indicate that it goes bask to the 10th o 11th century but there have been many theories regarding the origins of the entire edifice with may once have been a monastery. It has been ascertained that the ground floor was once connected to the upper church by means of arched porches.
The present facade, the original aspect of which has been altered by successive interventions, now presents three portals corresponding with the aisles inside, a central “Oculo” and above, seven “Monofore” and the roof. On the right, the facade is completed by a bell-tower.
The elimination of the superstructures in baroque from the facade has given the square in front of the church a new look. In the past, the Square was the centre of the fair “la Fiera del Crocifisso” which today is held near the “Arechi Stadium”. The auspices are that one day the stalls of the Fair may bring the historical centre alive again.
The side that faces onto via Mercanti preserves original traces of the stonework and windows. This part of the church is in process of restoration which, we hope, will bring to light this testimony of the past. Inside the church pillars divide the aisles which lead to the three apses: in the central aisle there is a mosaic which reproduces the frescoes in the Crypt.
At the foot of the altar, situated in the apse on the right, are frescoes going back yo the 16th and 17th century of S. Paolina Vergine in the middle and the martyrs S. Clemente and S. Cassiano with their relics at either side.
From the right hand aisle access to the crypt is possible.
The Crypt probably dates back to the 8th century and presents the same structure as the church above although it is smaller.
The crypt, restore in the 1950’s is adorned with the remarkable fresco depicting the Crucifixion of Christ which goes back to the 13th or 14th century.
In the middle of the fresco Christ is abandoned on the Cross; at his feet, pierced by a single nail, stand two soldiers, one of whom is stabbing Christ in the chest. On the left of the fresco the Vergin Mary is represented together with Maddalena and Maria di Cleofe, while on the right, Giovanni, Giuseppe D’Arimatea e Nicodemo are represented. Four angels hover behind them two of whom are preserving Christ’s divine blood in golden chalices.
The fresco in the right hand apse depicts a triptych of saints.