"Take care of your church instead of my beard!"
(BARBAM MIRANTES AULA V(EST)RAM RESPICITE)
So in the church of San Flaviano, from the top of one of the capitals, a bearded man apostrophes the faithful.
It would be easy to understand that the church of San Flaviano, on the edge of the village of Montefiascone, has something interesting to tell us!
The church appears as the overlapping of two churches, oriented in the opposite direction: the apse of the inferior corresponds to the entrance of the superior..
It is probable that the matronees of the Romanesque church have been transformed into a further upper church ... with the hole, from which one can admire the lower church.
Certainly the church has had an interesting construction history.
In 852 Pope Leo IV speaks of the"ecclesiam Sanctae Mariae ubi corpus Beati Flaviani martyris requiescit, cum casale et burgo suo in circuitu et giro eius".
It seems that the present Romanesque building dates back to 1032 but a church was already annotated by Sigerico in 990 in the itinerary as Sancte Flaviane, the seventh stage of the return to Canterbury.
Probably there was a hostel for the pilgrims of the Via Francigena.
In 1113 he was buried in church Johannes Defuk, a German bishop who had gone to Rome to see the coronation of Henry V to Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire..
It seems that the prelate showed a strong preference for Montefiascone wine, EST EST EST !, to the point of electing the home ... eternal.
The faithful servant Martino buried the prelate in San Flaviano by writing on the gravestone "Est est est pr nim est hic Jo De Fuk do meus mortuus est" "[Est est est propter nimium est hic Johannes De Fuk dominus meus mortuus est]" (My Master Johannes De Fuk died because of too much Est Est Est [the local wine]).
Federico I imperor destroys the village around the church in 1187 but leaves the church intact..
Then Montefiascone rises leaving San Flaviano on the outskirts.
Splendid capitals are decorating the columns of the three aisles of San Flaviano.. Certainly the most curious capital is the one quoted with the beard that shakes the beard. On the same capital another man recites "AULA(E) SV(M) CU(S)TO(S) P(ROPTER) SCUL(P)TU(S) DELUDERE STULTO(S)" (I am sculptured in the temple to amuse all fools).
The decorative richness is impressive: eagles, lions, phytomorphic motifs ...
On the walls survive beautiful paintings painted between 1300 and 1600: stories of St. Nicholas, St. Catherine, Annunciation, visit of the Magi.
San Flaviano had to be one of those fully-painted "bomboniere", which in times when the image was a rarity, had to suggest to the faithful a sensory experience experienced as a paradise in advance.
In such a place, you could miss a double queue mermaid?
Search it! Laid on the floor (perhaps deserving a more comfortable arrangement ...), forgotten between chairs and kneeling, in the chapel that the servant Martino has dedicated to his dominion Bishop De Fuk the siren with two queues, vanishes, continues to follow History of this building..
No one will tell you how it ended up next to the Bishop: the sirens give no explanation. But perhaps those who take care of the defense and enhancement of our country's historical and artistic heritage should give us some explanation...