From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Orvieto is a city in southwestern Umbria, Italy situated on the flat summit of a large butte of volcanic tuff. The site of the city is among the most dramatic in Europe, rising above the almost-vertical faces of tuff cliffs that are completed by defensive walls built of the same stone.
On November 15, 1290, Pope Nicholas IV laid the cornerstone for the present building and dedicated it to the Assumption of the Virgin, a feast for which the city had a long history of special devotion. The design has often been attributed to Arnolfo di Cambio, but the prevailing modern opinion is that its master mason was an obscure monk named Fra' Bevignate from Perugia. The church is striped in white travertine and greenish-black basalt in narrow bands, similar in many ways to the cathedral of Siena and other central Italian cathedrals of that era. In the following decade, cathedral authorities called Sienese architect and sculptor Lorenzo Maitani to stabilize the building and design a façade. He enlarged the choir and planned a transept with two chapels (c.1308-1330), spaces that were not finished until long after his death. The façade (illustration, right) is particularly striking and includes some remarkable sculpture by Lorenzo Maitani (14th century). Inside the cathedral, the Chapel of San Brizio is frescoed by Fra Angelico and with Luca Signorelli's masterpiece, his Last Judgment (1449-51). On the left side of this chapel are the tombs of the Gualterio family.
The Corporal of Bolsena, on view in The Duomo, dates from a Eucharistic miracle in Bolsena, Italy in 1263 when a consecrated host began to bleed onto a corporal, the small cloth upon which the host and chalice rest during the Canon of the Mass.