THE ORATORY AND THE TOWER OF SAINT ROCH
Built “extra moenia” in 1287, this baroque church was dedicated to St Martin and St Christopher. In the 16th century Lerici was stricken by the plague. Once it ended, the population grew again and the church was widened with a tower to protect the ford. In 1524 it was named after Saint Roch. Discovered during recent restorations, the pedunculated, Templar cross inside the church confirms the military nature of this tower – it used to cover the paved street leading to the barbican (a defence fort).
Back in those days, notaries used to draw up their deed in a side corner of the church called “er canto” (the chant). Inside the church there is an oil on canvas painting by the Italian artist Casoni, the son-in-law of Domenico Fiasella, a well-known artist from Sarzana. This painting depicts the Holy Family between Saint Eligius and Saint Anthony the Great.
On the altar an oil on table represents the Saints Sebastiano, Rocco, as well as Martino and Cristoforo, saints which the church was originally devoted. Attributed by some historical ones of the art to Teramo Piaggio, the painting (XVI cent.) is valuable: clearly reorganized for being suited for the altar, probably it is the portion of a greater work.
In the altar to the left a non common work is places, painted on “ciappa”, that is the plate of blackboard, that represents the Virgo and the Saints Andrea and Rocco, of unknown author. It seems that the table come from the convent of the Agostinianis of Maralunga.
Observing the building works, you can see a templar cross of the type “croix fichée”, that has been open during the recent jobs of restauration, because before it had suffered the “damnatio memoriae”. The historical problem exists to understand as the cross “peduncolata”, typical of the Templaris, is found on the bell tower of St. Rocco chapel, that, according to the two headstones in façade, would result built in 1514 or in 1515, or with the money drawn by the sale of the trees of the ‘common bosca’ (local forest) of Camisano or with the money of the Bank of St. George. Probably on the channel a precedent tower of defense existed, situated to the outside of the medieval suburb.