Ministero della Cultura

You are in: Home / Museums / Abruzzo

Chiesa di San Pietro ad Oratorium


The Church of San Pietro ad Oratorium outlooks the pleasant valley of the Tirino river, very close to the river itself and surrounded by a thick woodland, at the base of the south-eastern foothills of the Gran Sasso range. It is 6 km away from Capestrano, a small town that became well-known after the discovery of the so-called Guerriero di Capestrano (Capestrano Warrior), a 6th century B.C. statue, now displayed in Chieti, at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale d'Abruzzo - Villa Frigerj (National Archaeological Museum of Abruzzo , Villa Frigerj).Perhaps a church dating back to the 1st half of the 8th century A.D. already existed on this site, but the Langobardic king Deside rius (756-774) re-built the church and erected an abbey in this strategic area, controlling the valley floor and the main routes. The church and the abbey became part of the properties of San Vincenzo al Volturno, a rich and powerful abbey in Isernia.

In 1117, Pope Paschal II consecrated the church, which had been totally renovated and restored, and declared the independence of the abbey from the bishop’s authority (abbatia nullius diocesis), a status that was retained until 1808.Outside, the visitor can admire the renovations of the year 1100, on the contrary the abbey was totally destroyed by the numerous floods of the Tirino river.There is an inscription on the main gate’s lintel, mentioning the foundation by king Desiderius and the renovations of the 1100s. Looking at the façade, an inquiring visitor will immediately note the presence of a block, set upside down, bearing five inscribed words: ROTAS OPERA TENET AREPO SATOR. These words can be read from left to right and vice versa, but also from top to bottom and from bottom to top. This inscription is commonly called “Sator Magic Square” and it was found in other places in Italy and in Europe, however its symbolic meaning is not clear yet and many interpretations and translations have been proposed. It is interesting to notice that the letters, if anagrammed, form the word PATER NOSTER (Our Father).The inside of the church is divided into three naves with three apses and there is a 1200s ciborium. The lintel of the ciborium is ornated by a vegetal motif, in which a vine shoot comes out from a dragon’s mouth, while the upper part of the ciborium is decorated with green and blue glazed tiles, a unique case in Abruzzo.At last, the visitor will see that the central apse is painted with a fresco from early 1100, portraying Jesus Christ on a throne surrounded by the Evangelists, under which there are the 24 Elders of the Apocalypse.


località Bivio Capodacqua incrocio con Colle S. Giacomo Capestrano
67022 Capestrano


Temporarily closed

Situazione Emergenziale Aperture :

Chiuso temporaneamente (Covid-19)

Ph: +39 0862 28420
Full: free admission