In 765 AD Cuninomodo, a member of the nobility, was ordered by the King Desiderio and Queen Ansa to donate his property to Sirmione’s basilicas and the Brescian monastery San Salvatore to expiate his guilt for a murder committed in Pavia’s royal palace. This is the period when San Pietro in Mavinas church was build (the name probably comes from the Latin “ad summa vineas” meaning place with the wineyards up high). The Roman bell tower was definited built at a later date, in two phases between the eleventh and twelth centuries, which is a when the frescos decorating the apses were painted. The church San Pietro in Mavino underwent restoration in 1320.
The church has a rectangular plan and is oriented east-west. The cancel contains three apses. The one in the middle shows a Christ Pantocrator in Byzantine tradition; the one on the left a Madonna Enthroned; the one on the right a Crucifixion. The ceiling is made of wooden beams. The church contains frescoes from the 12th-16th centuries. The Romanesque bell tower dates from 1070. The church has been used in the past as a military hospital and its surroundings as a cemetery for plague victims.References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).