Church of San Michele Arcangelo
Chiesa di San Michele Arcangelo
San Michele is the parish church of Arpaia. It is unknown when it was built for the first time: the structures of the current church date back to the 16th century, but the worship of the archangel Michael is usually closely related to the Langobards. Residual architectural elements in its interior suggest that it was founded in the 6th century; originally it was named, more shortly, Sant'Angelo.
San Michele has been a Collegiate church
since 1530, the first one in the Diocese of Sant'Agata de' Goti, to which Arpaia belongs; and it has been always regarded as the second important church in this territory, after the Cathedral.
Nevertheless, the known facts about the church sum up to a sequence of periods of negligence followed by ineffective restorations. This happened partly because the church included several chapels and altars which used to be under patronage of the wealthiest local families; and the latter did not always care about keeping them in good condition. But neither did the priests, even though the church was granted a fixed annual income from the universitas
(i.e. the town administration).
During the 16th century the church included several paintings and frescoes but, in the second half of that century, it was in horrible condition. Some partial restorations took place during the 17th century, but at the beginning of the 18th San Michele was again crumbling. A better refurbishment took place gradually between 1715 and 1824, but it was far from being definitive, because further signs of decay became evident soon.
Between 1897 and 1901 the municipality of Arpaia proceeded to the demolition and rebuilding of almost all the front half of the church. In particular, the barrel vaults that used to roof the church were replaced with a regular ceiling.
Chiesa di San Michele [Pro Loco Arpaia]
A detailed but messy account of the vicissitudes of the church, and the controversies that accompanied them.