The Basilica of S. Eufemia rises inside the confines of the Archbishop’s Palace, whose area was once occupied by the residence of the Longobard dukes, as attested to by documents dating to the VIII and IX centuries. The first record of the S. Eufemia monastery and its church goes back to the X century, when the Abbess of the S. Eufemia monastery asked the Benedictine monk Giovanni Cassinese to put the life of S. Giovanni, Archbishop of Spoleto, down in writing.
A some point in the mid-XII century the complex was converted into the Bishop’s Palace, probably after the cathedral had been enlarged, which meant making use of the area occupied by the old Bishop’s residence.
Towards the end of the XIV century a humble painter was commissioned to portray this Bishop’s Palace. In what was once the old chancellery, the artist left us a photograph, if you will, of the complex and S. Eufemia before the structure of the edifice underwent yet another major restoration project. Towards the mid-XV century, the diocese of Spoleto was under the rule of the Patriarch of Alexandria, the Venetian Marco Condulmer. It was around this time that the church seems to have changed its old name of S. Eufemia or S. Giovanni Arcivescovo to that of S. Lucia and that a triptych for the main altar was made, now housed in the Diocesan Museum.
The painting in the main apse’s semi-dome dates to the end of the XV century and represents the Eternal One surrounded by cherubs.
Despite its relatively small size, the inside of the church is remarkable for its sequential rhythm and proportions: the columns and pilasters, many of them recovered from the ruins of Classic or High Medieval buildings, line the three naves, and the presence of women’s galleries relates to a tradition which says that Sant’Eufemia once occupied the area of the ancient royal and ducal residence where, as was the case of the Palatine chapel of Aquisgrana, there were women’s galleries.
One enters the Basilica of Sant’Eufemia through the Diocesan Museum, located in the reception wing of the Archbishop’s Palace.
Address: via A. Saffi – Archbishop’s Palace