Every year on May 25, an amazing light phenomenon occurs at the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Urban – in the municipality of Apiro, Macerata: a ray of light enters the church from an “eye” in the central apse, and falls exactly on a circle sculpted on a pillar in the left-side nave.
On the very day in which the Catholic Church commemorates Saint Urban – pope from 222 to 230 AD, when Alessandro Severo was Roman Emperor – this beam cuts through the semi-darkness of the holy space and perfectly overlaps with the circle which, according to some experts, represents the Eucharist. The event is known as “Saint Urban’s luminous eye”.
Obviously, the beauty of this Abbey in Marche goes beyond this special day. It is a splendid example of Romanesque-Gothic architecture from the first millennium (it was consecrated in 1086, but there are records of its existence as far back as 1033), with three apses decorated with small arches and pilasters, and three naves with pillars representing an original iconostasis between the section reserved for the faithful and the elevated presbytery.
The ray of light even reaches the crypt, the third element in the building’s structure, when – always on May 25 – a beam of sunlight passes through a window on the central nave and hits the only column of the three naves that has a round base.
Abbazia di Sant’Urbano