San Mauro, Italy
II-I Century B.C. - XVI Century A.D.

Excavations at St. Mauro have recovered an uninterrupted sequence of settlement from the Roman period to the beginning of the 20th century. The oldest remains belong to a walled Roman settlement of the second to first century BC. In the Imperial Roman period this is replaced by a larger building probably pertaining to a “villa rustica”. Following the destruction of the villa a new building is raised containing a series of fine mosaic floors now on exhibit in the Town Hall of Noventa. The function of this new building is still unclear however various clues would suggest a religious purpose and it is perhaps one of the oldest Early Christian Churches in the region. The numerous foundations discovered during recent excavations belong to five different religious buildings each raised upon the remains of the previous building. These five churches, each differing in size and shape, are built above the remains of the late-antique building and date from the medieval to post-renaissance period when the grand church of St. Mauro, destroyed during the First World War, was built. More than one hundred burials have been identified and excavated from the large cemetery area surrounding these buildings.

The Churches of St. Mauro: Building on the foundations of history.

 New archaeological investigations of the area from which until 1917 the ancient parish of St. Mauro continued to develop have revealed a complex chronological sequence of buildings from the early Medieval period to modern times with the presence of no less than five churches and a chapel within the same area of excavation. This continuity of settlement is justified by the already favourable geographic position of the site at an important crossroads of the River Piave and the Decumano Massimo of the Roman centuriation south of Oderzo (Opitergium) both significant trade routes continuing into the medieval period.

It is interesting to note that until the construction of the present church (constructed 1923) all the previous church buildings have the their façade towards the river and not the road.

Late- Antique Building – early 5th century
In late- antiquity a new building is constructed upon the site of the later of the two Roman villas. The main structure has a rectangular plan originally divided into three distinct sectors by different panels of mosaic pavement. A small rectangular structure is situated to the south and may have been the baptistery. This layout of buildings combined with the similarity between the mosaic of the main structure and that of the early Christian basilica in Concordia Sagittaria suggest a possible identification of these remains with a paleo- Christian church with central nave and side aisles built around the beginning of the 5th century.

Early Medieval Church 8th-9th century.
This building with foundations in river pebbles has a rectangular plan (length 15.80m width 9.50m) with a semi-circular apse at the centre of which has been discovered a rectangular cavity which served to house the relics of St. Mauro. It had a simple beaten earth floor.

Romanesque Church 12th century.
In the 12th century the church is rebuilt upon the original pebble foundations perfectly respecting the previous orientation and dimensions. Different materials are used in its construction ( reused Roman brick and tile) and the presbytery area is closed by three apses built into the back wall. The two lateral apses enclose bases for small altars. The area reserved for the clergy is divided from the congregation by a presbytery screen. The floor in this new building phase is formed of stone tiles laid on the earlier beaten earth floor.

Gothic Church 1, 13th century
Around the 13th century a third church is raised upon the foundations of the Romanesque church maintaining the latter’s width but extends the east end to a total length of 22.30m. The new St. Mauro built of characteristic medieval bricks has a rectangular apse with adjacent square bell tower to the south originally incorporated by a further structure thought to be the sacristy. A rectangular building to the north seems to form part of this religious complex and could be a chapel dedicated to the Lady of the Rosary.

Gothic Church 2, 14th century.
In the 14th century the need for a larger church leads to the construction of a new building which completely incorporates all earlier structures. It has a single nave , 33.40m long and 14.20m wide terminating in a central polygonal apse taking its total length to 45m. To each side of the main apse there is a chapel with an internal polygonal apse. Connected to the northern chapel there is a further square structure , perhaps a new sacristy. On its north face is a square bell tower whose foundations are laid onto wooden planks.

Post- Renaissance Church, 16th-17th century.
From the 16th to 17th century the church extends north and south adding side aisles whose columns stand upon the demolished side walls of the previous church. The Gothic 2 church becomes the central body of a new construction of notable dimensions. The façade is about 30m wide and the body of the church 47m long. At the end of the central nave there is a semicircular apse with twin square side chapels both with apses. The building is paved in stone tiles.