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The crypt is located in the church of the SS. Annunziata, in the hamlet of Minuta. As the church was built on steep terrain, the underlying crypt is high and well lit. Of notable interest are its medieval frescoes, brought to light in the nineteenth century by the art historian Salazar. Of the three painted walls, the one on the right, which represented the Annunciation, was almost completely destroyed.
In 1871, art historian Demetrio Salazar was the first to shed light onthe crypt's medieval frescoes. He was responsible for dating the frescoes (9th - 10th century) which he did by comparing them with aseries of paintings found in the St.Vincent Church in Volturno near Isernia.
Mary and Elizabeth are depicted on the left wall high up, but
unfortunately their faces have been removed.
Whereas, the figures of Saint George and Saint Nicholas are found below.
On the cross vault behind the altar, the Christ is depicted performing a blessing in perfect Byzantine style. Alongside him are the figures of St. John the Baptist, St. John the Evangelist, King David and the prophet Daniel.
Above, on the wall behind the altar, the nativity of Jesus is represented. The scene is complex and of moving beauty: on the right the figure of St. Joseph seems to sleep while, further down, the women bathe the new born. On the left an angel, with a long scepter, announces the birth of the Redeemer to two shepherds. From here a stream descends from which a dog can be seen drinking. Down below graze two herds of sheep, a dog sleeps while another takes care of her pup. The heavens rejoice and a radiant star in the shape of a cross shines between tw ogroups of angels gazing at it.
Lower down on the wall behind the altar are two frescoes which represent the legend of St. Nicholas of Bari. A unique, unparalleled legend throughout all of Europe, the story goes that a rich yet childless man, thanks to the intercession of St. Nicholas, finally had a son. By way of thanks, he had a chapel built in his palace where he held a solemn celebration every year. But the boy was kidnapped and made the slave of a pagan king.
The boy brings a cup to the sovereign who, noticing the sadness on hisface, asks the reason. The young man responds that he misses the feast of St. Nicholas celebrated that very day at his home. At which point a supernatural wind abducts the young man with the precious cup.
This second scene represents his father’s palace where the clergy hasalready sung mass and sits at the table, while the mother embraces her son and the father bows to St. Nicholas who stands contemplating the scene.