The cathedral is named after Santa Margherita, the patron saint of Montefiascone, and has one of the largest domes on a national level. With its 27 meters in diameter it is recognizable from almost all the places in Tuscia.
The cathedral was built between the fifteenth and the sixteenth century on two levels that had two different functions: the lower church housed the relics of Saint Lucia Filippini and the upper church, used for daily celebrations, was where there are the relics of Santa Margherita, a martyr originally from Syria and protector of pregnant women.
In 1483 the cardinal Domenico della Rovere started the enlargement of a previous church and also seems to have involved Bramante and Antonio Sangallo the Younger in a truly original design of an octagonal church. For a time, the works were suspended because of the plague and construction went slowly, but the current form is due to an accident.
The construction of the dome and of the current church, in fact, were made after Good Friday of 1670 when a fire caused by an organist had destroyed the roof of the cathedral and part of its interior.
The new ‘ribbed’ dome with its evident grooves was designed by Carlo Fontana and dates back to 1674. It characterizes the landscape of the village in a decisive manner and dominates the simple bell towers and the simple facade embellished by the entrance door and two side niches with the statues of the patrons San Flaviano and Santa Margherita. The façade dates back to the 19th century and is the work of the architect Paolo Gazola.
Inside the baroque style of the church has an octagonal plan with side chapels and on one of the sides there is the main altar with the statue of Santa Margherita and a precious wooden choir.
Among the many artworks present is an ancient wooden crucifix that was saved from the fire of 1670 and for this reason it is considered miraculous, a painting of the 1600s of the bishop St. Martin, a painting of the Madonna with Child between the empress St. Elena, St. Vincent and Saints. In the chapel of the Madonna del Rosario there is a splendid Renaissance terracotta made by Benedetto Buglioni, of the Della Robbia school, which represents the Madonna enthroned between San Benedetto and Santa Bibiana.
The dome is frescoed with scenes of the patrons of the city. Above the entrance is the choir with an organ.
In the cathedral is buried Cardinal Marco Antonio Barbarigo who created the seminary in Montefiascone and transformed the local economy during the second half of the seventeenth century.
Crypt of Saint Lucia Filippini
The crypt is the oldest part of the church and includes the remains of Saint Lucia Filippini, disciple of the cardinal and founder of the order of the nuns Pie Filippini, who was born in Tarquinia and died in Montefiascone in 1732.
The crypt is accessed through a fourteenth-century portal in the shape of an ogive and the simplicity of the environment seems to contrast with the baroque splendour of the church above. The octagonal shaped space is marked by a central nucleus containing the remains of Saint Lucia in an artistic altar and a ring composed of eight Gothic arches.
The crypt was designed by the architect Michele Sammichele di Verona with the involvement of Antonio Sangallo the Younger.