The Chiesa Matrice di San Marco Evangelista contains the precious statue of the Patron of Agnone: San Cristanziano, brought to our town by Ascolani merchants, along with that of Sant’Emidio. The construction of the church that dates back to 1114 was carried out on the initiative of Count Odorisio Borrello and his son Gualterio. In the interior, baroque altars and wooden statues of the 15th and 16th centuries form a precious crown to a gilded silver monstrance of the 15th century, probably made by the local goldsmith Giovanni da Agnone, a pupil of Nicola da Guardiagrele. A huge fire on Christmas night 1610 destroyed the interior; few objects were saved, and what was once a church with three naves was rebuilt with a single nave. In the reconstruction the main entrance was also moved to the opposite side,
adjacent to the bell tower. Particular attention should be paid to the altar of Sant’Anna (26 July), built in 1805 in the same year that there was an intercession by the Saint and Agnone was not damaged at all by the devastating earthquake that destroyed several villages in the district.
CURIOSITY: “La lazzara di San Diodato” (The beetle of San Diodato). It will be for the presence of Sant’Emidio (patron saint against earthquakes) and of his pupil San Cristanziano (protector against disasters of all kinds, and above all protector of the town) that Agnone, a rare case in Italian history, despite being in a highly seismic area, has never suffered serious damage from the earthquakes that have occured over the centuries and during the past few years. In the Matrice church of San Marco, just below the artistic altar of the Madonna delle Grazie, a “ small sentry” of a metallic green color warned the town in case it was about to be struck by an earthquake. In the reliquary placed under the artistic altar of the Madonna delle Grazie the remains of San Diodato are preserved, wrapped in a delicate armor of gilded silver filigree. Inside this casing there are also some silk roses on which a beetle “lives”. Yes, just a beetle. According to popular tradition, as soon as a terrestrial event was about to occur, the insect moved on to another rose. The sacristan and the children were entrusted with making this “check” and, in case this happened, all the faithful went to pray at the Church of Sant’Emidio, with as much fervor as was needed to ward off the event. Now no one checks the movements of the beetle . . . would this perhaps be the right time to reintroduce the tradition?
Largo Carlo Alberto (Rione di San Marco).
The Matrice Church of San Marco can usually be visited throughout most of the year. Time to allow for a visit is an hour.