naturns st prokulus kirche apfelbluete
naturns st prokulus kirche apfelbluete

St Proculus church

The St. Proculus Church in Naturno is one of the oldest churches of Early Christian times in South Tyrol

The St. Proculus Church is famous for its frescos from pre-Carolingian times, probably the most ancient frescos of the German speaking area and the most complete early fresco cycle of Tyrol. Today the age of the oldest paintings is rather contested, new datings refer to the period of time between the 7th and 10th century. The most famous fresco shows a man on a swing, probably it is St. Proculus himself, he was the bishop of Verona in the 4th century and had to flee from persecution. Another interpretation is, that the picture shows Paul on his escape from Damascus: he is let down the town wall on a rope.

In its essence, the building was established between 630 and 650 AD. The first altar was brick-built. Between the 12th and 14th century the church was restored and enlarged several times. In 1365, however, the Annenberg family took over the sacred building and used it as their burial ground. The nave was raised and decorative paintings in Gothic style were added inside the Proculus Church, covering the older frescos. In 1923/24 the pre-Carolingian frescos have been laid open during the restoration of the church. However, frescos dating back to the 14th century can still be seen e.g. on the southern outer wall (The Creation of the World and The Fall of Man). In the 17th century the inhabitants of Naturno were pest-ridden and within a short period of time every fourth inhabitant died. Close to the church a mass grave has been established.

Next to the church, in 2006 the association "Prokulus Kulturverein" established an own museum with important finds of the 1985 and 1986 excavations as well as Gothic frescos removed from the church. The cultural artefact "Proculus" is considered to be a particular ensemble and should be made accessible above all to the inhabitants of the village as site of inestimable value.

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The St. Proculus Museum and the St. Proculus Church stay open from March to the end of October, in winter, the church is accessible on December 26 and 31, 2023, and on January 1 and 6, 2024, for the event "Follow the Star" from 1.30 pm to 3.30 pm. Season start 2024 on March 19.

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