It was founded by the Benedictine monks of the Farfa Abbey, probably between the 8th and the 9th century A.D. and was probably built where once stood the temple of the Etruscan Great Goddess Cupra. It contains many classical and medieval artefacts, such as the fragment of the foot of a giant statue walled up the entrance and two stones of the Middle Age, carved in bas relief and used as holy water fonts.
IF YOU WANT TO VISIT THE CHURCH
Go to: San Martino street (Via San Martino), Grottammare.
The first notion we have about the church is contained in the “Cronicon farfense” of the 10th century, that revealed the existence of the building and its structured organisation. The ancient writing also reveals that the abbot Ildebrando of St. Vittoria in Matenano gave his son Alberto the St. Martin’s property illegally, mentioning it as «curtem Santi Martini».
Another document of the year 1030 proves that the minister Trasmondo sold St. Martin’s estate to bishop Uberto from Fermo, defining it a «Monasterium».
St. Martin’s church used to have wide territories and properties: that demonstrates its jurisdictional and religious importance at the time of Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor.
Of the original estate the church has been preserved and restored in the 11th century. It was probably built on the rests of an ancient pagan temple, as the portion of a wall in opus caementicium (Roman concrete) suggests. St. Martin was also particularly venerated by the Benedictines during the Middle Age, as a symbol of the victory of Christianity. According to some theories the abbey was built on the rests of the Picene temple of the Etruscan Great Goddess Cupra, restored by emperor Adriano in 127 AD., but the discussion remains still open and unsolved.
THE HOLY JUBILEE - The Landing of Pope Alessandro III
According to the tradition, at the end of June 1775, Pope Alexander III was travelling to Venice to organise the fight against Frederick Barbarossa, who was preparing to invade Italy, when suddenly his boat was caught in a storm and forced ashore. The Pope’s ship landed and found refuge in the ancient port of Grottammare, which no longer exists. When the Camaldolensian monks (under the holy order of St. Benedict) at St. Martin’s church invited the Pope to stay on until July 1st, in order to attend the festivities of the local population, he was so marvelled and touched by the immense participation of the inhabitants that he took off his camauro (hat), filled it with sand and proclaimed: “As many indulgences will be granted to each pilgrim as there are grains of sand herein”. Since then, a plenary indulgence can be obtained inside the church by pilgrims whenever July 1st is Sunday. The indulgence was re-confirmed by Pope Pius VII in 1803 and then in 1973, so Grottammare perpetuates a great privilege.
The Holy Jubilee re-enacts today this historical moment of joy and is celebrated in July in St. Martin’s church and around the streets by the citizen, dressed in traditional clothes to recreate the memory.
Translated by Raissa Baroni