Sacri Monti of Piemonte and Lombardia

Sacri Monti del Piemonte e della Lombardia, Ossuccio, Como, Italija

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The Sacri Monti  of Piemonte and of Lombardia

“The nine Sacri Monti of Northern Italy are groups of chapels and other architectural edifices constructed in the 16th and 17th centuries, dedicated to different aspects of the Christian faith.

In addition to their symbolic and spiritual significance, they also possess notable characteristics of beauty, virtue and pleasantness, and they are integrated in natural and scenic environments of hills, woods and lakes. They also contain very important artistic remains (frescoes an statues)”. With this motivation, in 2003 the UNESCO registered the site “Sacri Monti of Piemonte and of Lombardia” in its World Heritage List.

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The phenomenon of Sacri Monti began at the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries with the aim of creating places of prayer in Europe as an alternative to the Holy Land (Jerusalem and Palestine).

At that time, access to the Holy Land was becoming more and more difficult for pilgrims owing to the rapid expansion of Muslim culture. Initially, three different locations were proposed for the “New Jerusalem”: Vareallo in Valsesia, Montaione in Tuscany, and Braga in Northern Portugal. Locations were selected based on similarity of topography to the Holy Land.

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This phenomenon took root especially after the Council of Trent when the Church adopted the additional role of combating the influence of the Protestant Reformation.

The Sacri Monti of Piemonte (Belmonte, Crea, Domodossola, Ghiffa, Oropa, Orta and Varallo) and the two of Lombardia (Ossuccio and Varese), highlighting the extraordinary wealth and the quality and the value of these jewels of history, of art and of nature.

The series of chapels, which, with statues, paintings and frescos recount episodes and mysteries of sacred life, merge with the welcoming environmental surroundings and contribute to define the features of each monumental complex.

Valuable examples of landscape architecture, the Sacri Monti are important meeting places for the faithful and for lovers of art.

From the ring of the western Alps, where the phenomenon originated more than five hundred years ago, the Sacri Monti then inspired similar models that rose in many parts of Catholic Europe. The seven Sacri Monti of Piemonte have been included in the system of protected areas of the Piemonte Region, that cares for their historical and artistic preservation and maintains and safeguards the surrounding environment.

The Sacred Mount of Belmonte

The Sacred Mount of Belmonte is situated above the town of Valperga (706 m. a.s.l.), in the province of Torino, at the entrance to the Orco Valley (the Canavese area), in a position that looks out over a wide panorama that includes a great part of Piemonte.

The Mount was conceived by Franciscan Friar Michelangelo da Montiglio, who after a period spent in Palestine, called on local artisans and artists to work on the construction of the devotional complex. It began in 1712, and the Sacred Mount was completed only a century later, maintaining a certain unity in its architectural composition.

The monumental complex includes a sanctuary of a medieval origins and thirteen chapels dedicated to the Passion of Christ.

The chapels rise along a circular course, that passes through a wood of oak and chestnut trees hundreds of years old, and large granite rocks of a pinkish colour. The line of aediculae is simple and essential. The chapels all refer to a single construction type with a hall, a round or quadrilateral layout, preceded by a pronaos from which one can see the sacred scene, portrayed with terracotta polychrome statues.

From an artistic point of view, the most important chapels are the no. 1 Jesus Condemned to Death, no. 8 the Pious Women and no. 11 Crucifixion. Because of its splendid panoramic position, chapel no. 6 La Veronica should be mentioned, though its sculptures have been lost.

Sacri Monti of Piemonte and Lombardia, Italy

Recent renovations have brought to light the frescos that originally decorated the chapels and restored the statues, work of the ceramic maestros of Castellamonte. Among the frescos the one dedicated to Jesus, nailed to the cross, should be pointed out, painted with a light and delicate touch by an unknown artist, presumably of the Lombard school.

The Special Reserve of the Sacred Mount of Belmonte
Ex Manifattura
Via Ivrea, 100
10082 CUORGNE’ (TO)
Tel.: 0124 510605
Fax: 0124 514463
E-mail :[email protected]
Web Site: www.sacri-monti.com

The Sacred Mount of Crea

The Sacred Mount of Crea is situated on one of the highest hills of the Monferrato area (455m. a.s.l.) in the province of Alessandria. The special location enhances it with an exceptional panoramic view over the surrounding hills and the alpine mountain chain.

Construction work on the Sacri Monti began in 1589 on the initiative of the Prior of Crea Costantino Massino, who designed the enlargement of the pre-existing Marian sanctuary, providing also for the construction of a series of chapels dedicated to the mysteries of the life and to the triumph of the Madonna.

Among the first chapels built, there are those of the Nativity of Mary and of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple. The Sacred Mount of Crea includes twenty-three chapels, built in two different construction phases, one in the 16th and 17th centuries, and the other in the 19th century.

The oldest part is distinguished by complex groups sculptures in polychrome terracotta inserted in frescoed environments; these were decorated by artists like Moncalvo, Prestinari and Wespin. The nineteenth century work, that replaced the chapels that had been lost, reveals a simpler style of statues, except for the chapel of the Climb to Calvary – Salita al Calvario, in which Leonardo Bistolfi worked and produced a composition of great emotional intensity.

Sacri Monti of Piemonte and Lombardia, Italy

The chapels, except for the first two dedicated to Saint Eusebius, are centred on different stages of the life of the Virgin (initially on the mysteries of the Rosary), following a path that culminates in the chapel of the Coronation of Mary – Incoronazione di Maria -, better known as Il Paradiso. The Chapel of Paradise, with over three hundred statues, is the most complex of the Sacred Mount. The subject is treated with great richness.

Portrayed is the Coronation of Mary by the Trinity, supported by a host of angels. She has a crown of three rings of statues portraying apostles, saints and martyrs.

Ente di Gestione dei Sacri Monti
Riserva speciale del Sacro Monte di Crea
Cascina Valperone, 1
15020 Ponzano Monferrato (AL)
Tel.: 0141 927120
Fax: 0141 927800
E-mail : [email protected]
Sito internet : www.sacri-monti.com

The Sacred Calvary Mount of Domodossola

This Sacred Calvary Mount is the northernmost of the Sacred Mounts, both because of its geographical position and also for the cultural influence of nearby Switzerland. The devotional path winds from the town centre of Domodossola to the hill of Mattarella.

The construction of the Calvary Mount was started by the Capuchin Monks Gioacchino da Cassano and Andrea da Rho, who in 1656 began the work for the realisation of a monument that would allow pilgrims to relive the Passion of Christ in a sort of biblia pauperum.

The project gained the approval of the local populations, who contributed with substantial offerings and made available their personal skills. The themes of the catechist-devotional path of the Sacred Mount are the episodes of the Via Crucis and the Passion of Christ on Calvary. In 1657 the Sanctuary of the Crucifix was built, it was the culminating point of the devotional path.

Sacri Monti of Piemonte and Lombardia, Italy

Inside it, there are two chapels: Jesus Dies on the Cross – Gesù muore sulla croce, and the Deposition -la Deposizione. The other chapels were built in the following years in isolated positions, along the paved road that climbs from the city.

When in 1810, the Napoleonic suppression sent the Cappucine Monks away, the Sacred Mount was still not completed. In 1828, on the arrival of Antonio Rosmini, who founded the Istituto della Carità – Institute of Charity – on the hill, a new impulse was given to the works that led to the completion of the Sacred Calvary Mount. Today it is made up of fifteen chapels.

The long period between the start and the completion of the complex, almost two centuries, endows the chapels with architectural characteristics that range from the baroque to the neo-classical, and the list of artists who contributed their skills includes names like Dionigi Bussola, Carlo Mellerio and Giovanni Battista de Magistris.

Ente di Gestione dei Sacri Monti
Riserva speciale del Sacro Monte di Domodossola
Borgata Sacro Monte Calvario, 5
28845 Domodossola (VB)
Tel.: 0324 241976
Fax: 0324 247749
E-mail : [email protected]
Sito internet : www.sacri-monti.com

The Sacred Mount of the Holy Trinity of Ghiffa

The Sacred Mount of the Holy Trinity of Ghiffa sits on the Piemonte shore of the Lago Maggiore, in the province of Verbano Cusio Ossola. The devotional complex enjoys a splendid panoramic position on the lake and the Lombard pre-alps. The project of the Sacred Mount, which originally was supposed to portray episodes of the Old and New Testament, was never completed.

The Sacred Mount has three principal chapels dedicated to biblical subjects, and two other smaller minor chapels, joined to the Sanctuary and the portico of the Via Crucis. The first three chapels were built around the sanctuary of the Holy Trinity, which was constructed between 1605 and 1617 on the remains of an ancient medieval oratory.

The chapel of the Coronation of the Virgin was built in 1647 by the Canetta family of Ghiffa, as remembered in an inscription on the entry door. The second chapel, dedicated to the Baptism of Jesus, was built before 1659 and it depicts John the Baptist as he pours water of the Jordan over the head of Jesus while the Heavenly Father looks on from above. The third chapel, more isolated from the rest of the complex, portrays the Patriarch Abraham prostrate before three angels.

Sacri Monti of Piemonte and Lombardia, Italy

The sanctuary is central construction with a rectangular layout; the chapels have a geometric arrangement, with a portico or peristyle with arches. In 1752, the portico was added with frescoes of the stations of the Via Crucis; the fourteen bays, with crossed vaults and stone columns, highlight the devotional function of the course along the fourteen stations, depicted by aediculae frescoed at the beginning of the 1800s and enriched with polychrome tiles in the 1930s.

Ente di Gestione dei Sacri Monti
Riserva speciale del Sacri Monti di Ghiffa
Via SS. Trinità, 48
28823 Ghiffa (VB)
Tel.: 0323 59870
Fax: 0323 590800
E-mail : [email protected]
Sito internet: www.sacri-monti.com

The Sacred Mount of Oropa

The Sacred Mount of Oropa is inserted in a splendid alpine scenario at 1,200 metres above sea level, a short distance from the city of Biella. The complex containing the sanctuary and the Sacred Mount is considered the most important place of Marian worship of the alpine area.

The Sacred Mount was built between 1617 and 1620, on the initiative of the Cappuccino Friar, Padre Fedele da San Germano. Its construction coincided with extensive transformation operations promoted by the Savoia Family, that involved the collection of buildings of the vast monumental complex dedicated to the Black Madonna.

Contrary to other cases, where it was the noble families that financed the construction of the religious complexes, here it was the parish communities and the districts “rioni” of the city of Biella, along with the Duke of Savoia, that funded the construction of the chapels. The Sacred Mount is composed of twelve chapels dedicated to the life of the Virgin.

Sacri Monti of Piemonte and Lombardia, Italy

The original project planned for a series of twenty chapels, that were to narrate an extensive number of significant episodes of the life of Mary, known from the Sacred Scriptures and the Apocryphal Gospels.

The aediculae have various types of layouts:
central circular, rectangular, oval or cross- shaped. The chapels are set out in two parallel rows and appear aligned along a zigzag path.

The Sacred Mount was built in three principal construction phases: in the first decades of the 17th century, with the activity of the of the Valsesia modellers of the Enrico team, in the late 17th century and early 18th century with Bartolomeo Termine and Agostino Silva, and then with the modellers Carlo Francesco and Giuseppe Auregio and the painter Giovanni Galliari.

Ente di Gestione dei Sacri Monti
Riserva speciale del Sacro Monte di Oropa
Via Santuario di Oropa, 480
13900 Biella – Oropa (BI)
Tel.: 015 25551200
Fax: 015 25551219
E-mail : [email protected]
Sito internet: www.sacri-monti.com

The Sacred Mount of Orta

Placed on the summit of a hill overlooking the Orta Lake, this Sacred Mount fits in perfectly with the surrounding landscape. The woods, the variety of architectural and decorative styles, the enchanting panorama over the lake are elements that make this place unique, pervaded by a sense of meditation and serenity.

The Sacred Mount of Orta is dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi, and each of the twenty chapels recalls episodes of the life of the saint, interpreted as similar to the life of Jesus. It is this dedication to a saint, instead of to Christ or to the Madonna that makes it different from the other Sacred Mounts.

The devotional complex was built, emulating the nearby Sacred Mount of Varallo, starting at the end of the 16th century, on the initiative of the Novara abbot, Amico Canobio. Its construction was entrusted to the Cappuccino Father, Cleto da Castelletto Ticino, who immediately planned for the careful insertion of the architectural elements into the surrounding natural landscape.

Sacri Monti of Piemonte and Lombardia, Italy

The construction of the chapels follow each other in a spiral itinerary, and went on for over a century, transforming the route into representations of different architectural styles: from late Renaissance to the baroque of the mid 17th century and to the rococò of the buildings erected in the 17th and the 18th centuries.

The inside decoration, rich with statues and frescoes that portray the life of Saint Francis, is distinguished by the realism of the figures. The worksite enjoyed the contributions of great artists like Cristoforo Prestinari, Dionigi Bussola, the Fiammenghini, the Righi Brothers and many others. The devotional path ends at the Church of Saint Nicolao, a proto-Romanic building completely remodelled in the seventeenth century to imitate the Lower Basilica of Assisi.

Ente di Gestione dei Sacri Monti
Riserva speciale del Sacro Monte di Orta, Monte Mesma, Colle di Buccione
Via Sacro Monte
28016 Orta San Giulio (NO)
Tel.: 0322 911960
Fax: 0322 905654
E-mail : [email protected]
Sito internet: www.sacri-monti.com

The Sacred Mount of Ossuccio

Situated on the western shore of the Como Lake, the Sacred Mount of Ossuccio has notable scenic value. The devotional complex sits on a slope immediately behind the town of Ossuccio (419m. a.s.l.), opposite Comacina Island, in a splendid panoramic position on the lake.

The construction work of this Sacred Mount began in 1635 at the 16th century sanctuary of the Madonna del Soccorso. The founders or promoters are not known, but the devotional complex seems to have been started on the initiative of the Franciscans and the local noble families.

The Sacred Mount consists of fifteen chapels, dedicated to the Mysteries of the Rosary, built between 1635 and 1710.

The chapels are distributed along a climbing path that leads to the sanctuary of the Madonna del Soccorso, in which the last aedicula is located. The set of chapels, surrounded by vegetation and connected by a paved road that passes through olive orchards, gives the complex great harmony between architecture and the surrounding landscape.

The construction forms vary, and include rectangular baroques chapels and central-layout chapels. One architectural particularity are the porticos, which, on thin columns, extend along the road for its entire length and create a close tie between the itinerary and the single aediculae.

Sacri Monti of Piemonte and Lombardia, Italy

The Sacred Mount is populated by two hundred and thirty statues in stucco and terracotta. We know from documents the paternity of the stucco sculptures who was Agostino Silva; the frescoes were painted by Carlo Gaffuri, Innocenzo Torriani and Gian Paolo Recchi. There are no documents, on the other hand, regarding the authors of the first four chapels (the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity, and the Presentation at the Temple).

The Sanctuary of Madonna del Soccorso di Ossuccio
Via al Santuario
22010 Ossuccio (CO)
Tel.: 0344 55277 (Comune di Ossuccio)
Fax: 0344 56312
E-mail : [email protected]
Sito internet: www.sacri-monti.com

The Sacred Mount of Varallo

The Sacred Mount of Varallo is located in Valsesia, in the province of Vercelli. It sits on a buttress of rock above the town of Varallo (600 m a.s.l) and it is the oldest and the most important Sacred Mount of the alpine region.

Its story begins at the end of the 15th century, when the Franciscan friar Bernardino Caimi di Milano, on his return from the Holy Land, where he had been the guardian of the Holy Sepulchre, decided to reproduce the holy places of Palestine in Valsesia.

The “New Jerusalem” as the Sacred Mount was called, initially was meant to reproduce the distant sites of the Christian tradition for all those who would never be able to go there. Inside these places, there were images, paintings and sculptures that evoked the corresponding events of the story of the life of Christ.

Sacri Monti of Piemonte and Lombardia, Italy

Already in the early 16th century, thanks to the work of the painter, sculptor and architect Gaudenzio Ferrari, the scenes inside the chapels were presented in a genial and innovative merging of painting, and sculptures with strong realism, so that the devout could feel strongly involved, almost part of the spectacle presented. Gaudenzio Ferrari’s work would be taken as a model for the construction of many other Sacred Mounts.

In the Counter-Reformation period, the Sacred Mount took on the nature of a route, real but at the same time mystical, that pilgrims followed recalling the story of the life of Christ.

The Sacred Mount of Varallo includes a basilica and forty-five frescoed chapels populated by over eight hundred statues. Over a period of time, numerous important Piemonte artists contributed to the decoration and completion of this extraordinary complex; among these, besides Gaudenzio Ferrari, there were Bernardino Lanino, Tanzio da Varallo, the d’Enrico brothers, il Morazzone, Dionigi Bussola and Benedetto Alfieri.

Ente di Gestione dei Sacri Monti
Riserva speciale del Sacro Monte di Varallo
Località Sacro Monte
Piazza della Basilica, Edificio Casa Valgrana
13019 Varallo Sesia (VC)
Tel.: 0163 53938
Fax: 0163 54047
E-mail : [email protected]
Sito Internet : www.sacri-monti.com

The Sacred Mount of Varese

The Sacred Mount that sits above Varese rises at 883 m. a.s.l.. The devotional path extends along the slopes of Monte Velate, in a splendid, panoramic position that looks down on a beautiful setting of pre-alpine lakes and the plain. The Via Sacra – Sacred Way – was built starting in 1604, on the initiative of the Cappuccino Friar Giovanni Battista Aguggiari, who planned the construction of fourteen chapels dedicated to the Mysteries of the Rosary.

The last, with the celestial vision of the Virgin, received and crowned in Paradise, was to have the place of honour in the sanctuary at the end of the devotional route, founded it is said, by Sant’Ambrogio.

The project of Padre Aguggiari was soon realised thanks to the support of the local communities and wealthy families. The work continued, especially on the furnishings of the chapels, until the 18th century.

The Sacred Mount of Varese is the most uniform and homogeneous of all the Sacred Mounts of Piemonte and Lombardia; all the constructions (the chapels, the three fountains and the three arches that introduce the Mysteries) were designed by a single architect: Giuseppe Bernascone known as “Il Mancino”.

Sacri Monti of Piemonte and Lombardia, Italy

The chapels all have porticos with different shapes and very pompous; through doors and windows with grates, today with windows, visitors can see inside their groups of scenic figures. Many important architects of the Lombard cultural scene worked on the Sacred Mount of Varese, including Giovan Mauro della Rovere, one of the Fiammenghini,

Pier Francesco Mazzucchelli known as Morazzone, Francesco Silva, the Recchi Brothers, Dionigi Bussola, Antonio Busca and Stefano Maria Legnani called il Legnanino. In 1983, Renato Guttuso was invited by Mons. Pasquale Macchi to paint an acrylic with a contemporary version of the Flight to Egypt on the outside wall of the chapel dedicated to the Nativity.

The Sanctuary of Santa Maria del Monte
Via Assunzione, 21
Frazione Santa Maria del Monte
21100 Varese
Tel.: 0332 229223

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The Sacred Mount of Belmonte

The Sacred Mount of Belmonte is situated above the town of Valperga (706 m. a.s.l.), in the province of Torino, at the entrance to the Orco Valley (the Canavese area), in a position that looks out over a wide panorama that includes a great part of Piemonte.The Mount was conceived by Franciscan Friar Michelangelo da Montiglio, who after a period spent in Palestine, called on local artisans and artists to work on the construction of the devotional complex. It began in 1712, and the Sacred Mount was completed only a century later, maintaining a certain unity in its architectural composition. The monumental complex includes a sanctuary of a medieval origins and thirteen chapels dedicated to the Passion of Christ.

The chapels rise along a circular course, that passes through a wood of oak and chestnut trees hundreds of years old, and large granite rocks of a pinkish colour. The line of aediculae is simple and essential. The chapels all refer to a single construction type with a hall, a round or quadrilateral layout, preceded by a pronaos from which one can see the sacred scene, portrayed with terracotta polychrome statues. From an artistic point of view, the most important chapels are the no. 1 Jesus Condemned to Death, no. 8 the Pious Women and no. 11 Crucifixion. Because of its splendid panoramic position, chapel no. 6 La Veronica should be mentioned, though its sculptures have been lost.
Sacri Monti of Piemonte and Lombardia, ItalyRecent renovations have brought to light the frescos that originally decorated the chapels and restored the statues, work of the ceramic maestros of Castellamonte. Among the frescos the one dedicated to Jesus, nailed to the cross, should be pointed out, painted with a light and delicate touch by an unknown artist, presumably of the Lombard school.
The Special Reserve of the Sacred Mount of Belmonte
Ex Manifattura
Via Ivrea, 100
10082 CUORGNE’ (TO)
Tel.: 0124 510605
Fax: 0124 514463
E-mail :[email protected]
Web Site: www.sacri-monti.com

The Sacred Mount of Crea

The Sacred Mount of Crea is situated on one of the highest hills of the Monferrato area (455m. a.s.l.) in the province of Alessandria. The special location enhances it with an exceptional panoramic view over the surrounding hills and the alpine mountain chain.
Construction work on the Sacri Monti began in 1589 on the initiative of the Prior of Crea Costantino Massino, who designed the enlargement of the pre-existing Marian sanctuary, providing also for the construction of a series of chapels dedicated to the mysteries of the life and to the triumph of the Madonna. Among the first chapels built, there are those of the Nativity of Mary and of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple. The Sacred Mount of Crea includes twenty-three chapels, built in two different construction phases, one in the 16th and 17th centuries, and the other in the 19th century. The oldest part is distinguished by complex groups sculptures in polychrome terracotta inserted in frescoed environments; these were decorated by artists like Moncalvo, Prestinari and Wespin. The nineteenth century work, that replaced the chapels that had been lost, reveals a simpler style of statues, except for the chapel of the Climb to Calvary – Salita al Calvario, in which Leonardo Bistolfi worked and produced a composition of great emotional intensity.

Sacri Monti of Piemonte and Lombardia, ItalyThe chapels, except for the first two dedicated to Saint Eusebius, are centred on different stages of the life of the Virgin (initially on the mysteries of the Rosary), following a path that culminates in the chapel of the Coronation of Mary – Incoronazione di Maria -, better known as Il Paradiso. The Chapel of Paradise, with over three hundred statues, is the most complex of the Sacred Mount. The subject is treated with great richness.

Portrayed is the Coronation of Mary by the Trinity, supported by a host of angels. She has a crown of three rings of statues portraying apostles, saints and martyrs.

Ente di Gestione dei Sacri Monti
Riserva speciale del Sacro Monte di Crea
Cascina Valperone, 1
15020 Ponzano Monferrato (AL)
Tel.: 0141 927120
Fax: 0141 927800
E-mail : [email protected]
Sito internet : www.sacri-monti.com

The Sacred Calvary Mount of Domodossola

This Sacred Calvary Mount is the northernmost of the Sacred Mounts, both because of its geographical position and also for the cultural influence of nearby Switzerland. The devotional path winds from the town centre of Domodossola to the hill of Mattarella. The construction of the Calvary Mount was started by the Capuchin Monks Gioacchino da Cassano and Andrea da Rho, who in 1656 began the work for the realisation of a monument that would allow pilgrims to relive the Passion of Christ in a sort of biblia pauperum. The project gained the approval of the local populations, who contributed with substantial offerings and made available their personal skills. The themes of the catechist-devotional path of the Sacred Mount are the episodes of the Via Crucis and the Passion of Christ on Calvary. In 1657 the Sanctuary of the Crucifix was built, it was the culminating point of the devotional path.

Sacri Monti of Piemonte and Lombardia, ItalyInside it, there are two chapels: Jesus Dies on the Cross – Gesù muore sulla croce, and the Deposition -la Deposizione. The other chapels were built in the following years in isolated positions, along the paved road that climbs from the city. When in 1810, the Napoleonic suppression sent the Cappucine Monks away, the Sacred Mount was still not completed. In 1828, on the arrival of Antonio Rosmini, who founded the Istituto della Carità – Institute of Charity – on the hill, a new impulse was given to the works that led to the completion of the Sacred Calvary Mount. Today it is made up of fifteen chapels. The long period between the start and the completion of the complex, almost two centuries, endows the chapels with architectural characteristics that range from the baroque to the neo-classical, and the list of artists who contributed their skills includes names like Dionigi Bussola, Carlo Mellerio and Giovanni Battista de Magistris.

Ente di Gestione dei Sacri Monti
Riserva speciale del Sacro Monte di Domodossola
Borgata Sacro Monte Calvario, 5
28845 Domodossola (VB)
Tel.: 0324 241976
Fax: 0324 247749
E-mail : [email protected]
Sito internet : www.sacri-monti.com

The Sacred Mount of the Holy Trinity of Ghiffa

The Sacred Mount of the Holy Trinity of Ghiffa sits on the Piemonte shore of the Lago Maggiore, in the province of Verbano Cusio Ossola. The devotional complex enjoys a splendid panoramic position on the lake and the Lombard pre-alps. The project of the Sacred Mount, which originally was supposed to portray episodes of the Old and New Testament, was never completed.

The Sacred Mount has three principal chapels dedicated to biblical subjects, and two other smaller minor chapels, joined to the Sanctuary and the portico of the Via Crucis. The first three chapels were built around the sanctuary of the Holy Trinity, which was constructed between 1605 and 1617 on the remains of an ancient medieval oratory. The chapel of the Coronation of the Virgin was built in 1647 by the Canetta family of Ghiffa, as remembered in an inscription on the entry door. The second chapel, dedicated to the Baptism of Jesus, was built before 1659 and it depicts John the Baptist as he pours water of the Jordan over the head of Jesus while the Heavenly Father looks on from above. The third chapel, more isolated from the rest of the complex, portrays the Patriarch Abraham prostrate before three angels.

Sacri Monti of Piemonte and Lombardia, ItalyThe sanctuary is central construction with a rectangular layout; the chapels have a geometric arrangement, with a portico or peristyle with arches. In 1752, the portico was added with frescoes of the stations of the Via Crucis; the fourteen bays, with crossed vaults and stone columns, highlight the devotional function of the course along the fourteen stations, depicted by aediculae frescoed at the beginning of the 1800s and enriched with polychrome tiles in the 1930s.

Ente di Gestione dei Sacri Monti
Riserva speciale del Sacri Monti di Ghiffa
Via SS. Trinità, 48
28823 Ghiffa (VB)
Tel.: 0323 59870
Fax: 0323 590800
E-mail : [email protected]
Sito internet: www.sacri-monti.com

The Sacred Mount of Oropa

The Sacred Mount of Oropa is inserted in a splendid alpine scenario at 1,200 metres above sea level, a short distance from the city of Biella. The complex containing the sanctuary and the Sacred Mount is considered the most important place of Marian worship of the alpine area. The Sacred Mount was built between 1617 and 1620, on the initiative of the Cappuccino Friar, Padre Fedele da San Germano. Its construction coincided with extensive transformation operations promoted by the Savoia Family, that involved the collection of buildings of the vast monumental complex dedicated to the Black Madonna. Contrary to other cases, where it was the noble families that financed the construction of the religious complexes, here it was the parish communities and the districts “rioni” of the city of Biella, along with the Duke of Savoia, that funded the construction of the chapels. The Sacred Mount is composed of twelve chapels dedicated to the life of the Virgin.

Sacri Monti of Piemonte and Lombardia, ItalyThe original project planned for a series of twenty chapels, that were to narrate an extensive number of significant episodes of the life of Mary, known from the Sacred Scriptures and the Apocryphal Gospels. The aediculae have various types of layouts:
central circular, rectangular, oval or cross- shaped. The chapels are set out in two
parallel rows and appear aligned along a zigzag path. The Sacred Mount was built in three principal construction phases: in the first decades of the 17th century, with the activity of the of the Valsesia modellers of the Enrico team, in the late 17th century and early 18th century with Bartolomeo Termine and Agostino Silva, and then with
the modellers Carlo Francesco and Giuseppe Auregio and the painter Giovanni Galliari.

Ente di Gestione dei Sacri Monti
Riserva speciale del Sacro Monte di Oropa
Via Santuario di Oropa, 480
13900 Biella – Oropa (BI)
Tel.: 015 25551200
Fax: 015 25551219
E-mail : [email protected]
Sito internet: www.sacri-monti.com

The Sacred Mount of Orta

Placed on the summit of a hill overlooking the Orta Lake, this Sacred Mount fits in perfectly with the surrounding landscape. The woods, the variety of architectural and decorative styles, the enchanting panorama over the lake are elements that make this place unique, pervaded by a sense of meditation and serenity.

The Sacred Mount of Orta is dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi, and each of the twenty chapels recalls episodes of the life of the saint, interpreted as similar to the life of Jesus. It is this dedication to a saint, instead of to Christ or to the Madonna that makes it different from the other Sacred Mounts. The devotional complex was built, emulating the nearby Sacred Mount of Varallo, starting at the end of the 16th century, on the initiative of the Novara abbot, Amico Canobio. Its construction was entrusted to the Cappuccino Father, Cleto da Castelletto Ticino, who immediately planned for the careful insertion of the architectural elements into the surrounding natural landscape.

Sacri Monti of Piemonte and Lombardia, ItalyThe construction of the chapels follow each other in a spiral itinerary, and went on for over a century, transforming the route into representations of different architectural styles: from late Renaissance to the baroque of the mid 17th century and to the rococò of the buildings erected in the 17th and the 18th centuries. The inside decoration, rich with statues and frescoes that portray the life of Saint Francis, is distinguished by the realism of the figures. The worksite enjoyed the contributions of great artists like Cristoforo Prestinari, Dionigi Bussola, the Fiammenghini, the Righi Brothers and many others. The devotional path ends at the Church of Saint Nicolao, a proto-Romanic building completely remodelled in the seventeenth century to imitate the Lower Basilica of Assisi.

Ente di Gestione dei Sacri Monti
Riserva speciale del Sacro Monte di Orta, Monte Mesma, Colle di Buccione
Via Sacro Monte
28016 Orta San Giulio (NO)
Tel.: 0322 911960
Fax: 0322 905654
E-mail : [email protected]
Sito internet: www.sacri-monti.com

The Sacred Mount of Ossuccio

Situated on the western shore of the Como Lake, the Sacred Mount of Ossuccio has notable scenic value. The devotional complex sits on a slope immediately behind the town of Ossuccio (419m. a.s.l.), opposite Comacina Island, in a splendid panoramic position on the lake. The construction work of this Sacred Mount began in 1635 at the 16th century sanctuary of the Madonna del Soccorso. The founders or promoters are not known, but the devotional complex seems to have been started on the initiative of the Franciscans and the local noble families.

The Sacred Mount consists of fifteen chapels, dedicated to the Mysteries of the Rosary, built between 1635 and 1710. The chapels are distributed along a climbing path that leads to the sanctuary of the Madonna del Soccorso, in which the last aedicula is located. The set of chapels, surrounded by vegetation and connected by a paved road that passes through olive orchards, gives the complex great harmony between architecture and the surrounding landscape. The construction forms vary, and include rectangular baroques chapels and central-layout chapels. One architectural particularity are the porticos, which, on thin columns, extend along the road for its entire length and create a close tie between the itinerary and the single aediculae.

Sacri Monti of Piemonte and Lombardia, ItalyThe Sacred Mount is populated by two hundred and thirty statues in stucco and terracotta. We know from documents the paternity of the stucco sculptures who was Agostino Silva; the frescoes were painted by Carlo Gaffuri, Innocenzo Torriani and Gian Paolo Recchi. There are no documents, on the other hand, regarding the authors of the first four chapels (the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity, and the Presentation at the Temple).

The Sanctuary of Madonna del Soccorso di Ossuccio
Via al Santuario
22010 Ossuccio (CO)
Tel.: 0344 55277 (Comune di Ossuccio)
Fax: 0344 56312
E-mail : [email protected]
Sito internet: www.sacri-monti.com

The Sacred Mount of Varallo

The Sacred Mount of Varallo is located in Valsesia, in the province of Vercelli. It sits on a buttress of rock above the town of Varallo (600 m a.s.l) and it is the oldest and the most important Sacred Mount of the alpine region. Its story begins at the end of the 15th century, when the Franciscan friar Bernardino Caimi di Milano, on his return from the Holy Land, where he had been the guardian of the Holy Sepulchre, decided to reproduce the holy places of Palestine in Valsesia. The “New Jerusalem” as the Sacred Mount was called, initially was meant to reproduce the distant sites of the Christian tradition for all those who would never be able to go there. Inside these places, there were images, paintings and sculptures that evoked the corresponding events of the story of the life of Christ.

Sacri Monti of Piemonte and Lombardia, ItalyAlready in the early 16th century, thanks to the work of the painter, sculptor and architect Gaudenzio Ferrari, the scenes inside the chapels were presented in a genial and innovative merging of painting, and sculptures with strong realism, so that the devout could feel strongly involved, almost part of the spectacle presented. Gaudenzio Ferrari’s work would be taken as a model for the construction of many other Sacred Mounts. In the Counter-Reformation period, the Sacred Mount took on the nature of a route, real but at the same time mystical, that pilgrims followed recalling the story of the life of Christ.

The Sacred Mount of Varallo includes a basilica and forty-five frescoed chapels populated by over eight hundred statues. Over a period of time, numerous important Piemonte artists contributed to the decoration and completion of this extraordinary complex; among these, besides Gaudenzio Ferrari, there were Bernardino Lanino, Tanzio da Varallo, the d’Enrico brothers, il Morazzone, Dionigi Bussola and Benedetto Alfieri.

Ente di Gestione dei Sacri Monti
Riserva speciale del Sacro Monte di Varallo
Località Sacro Monte
Piazza della Basilica, Edificio Casa Valgrana
13019 Varallo Sesia (VC)
Tel.: 0163 53938
Fax: 0163 54047
E-mail : [email protected]
Sito Internet : www.sacri-monti.com

The Sacred Mount of Varese

The Sacred Mount that sits above Varese rises at 883 m. a.s.l.. The devotional path extends along the slopes of Monte Velate, in a splendid, panoramic position that looks down on a beautiful setting of pre-alpine lakes and the plain. The Via Sacra – Sacred Way – was built starting in 1604, on the initiative of the Cappuccino Friar Giovanni Battista Aguggiari, who planned the construction of fourteen chapels dedicated to the Mysteries of the Rosary. The last, with the celestial vision of the Virgin, received and crowned in Paradise, was to have the place of honour in the sanctuary at the end of the devotional route, founded it is said, by Sant’Ambrogio.

The project of Padre Aguggiari was soon realised thanks to the support of the local communities and wealthy families. The work continued, especially on the furnishings of the chapels, until the 18th century. The Sacred Mount of Varese is the most uniform and homogeneous of all the Sacred Mounts of Piemonte and Lombardia; all the constructions (the chapels, the three fountains and the three arches that introduce the Mysteries) were designed by a single architect: Giuseppe Bernascone known as “Il Mancino”.

Sacri Monti of Piemonte and Lombardia, ItalyThe chapels all have porticos with different shapes and very pompous; through doors and windows with grates, today with windows, visitors can see inside their groups of scenic figures. Many important architects of the Lombard cultural scene worked on the Sacred Mount of Varese, including Giovan Mauro della Rovere, one of the Fiammenghini,
Pier Francesco Mazzucchelli known as Morazzone, Francesco Silva, the Recchi Brothers, Dionigi Bussola, Antonio Busca and Stefano Maria Legnani called il Legnanino. In 1983, Renato Guttuso was invited by Mons. Pasquale Macchi to paint an acrylic with a contemporary version of the Flight to Egypt on the outside wall of the chapel dedicated to the Nativity.

The Sanctuary of Santa Maria del Monte
Via Assunzione, 21
Frazione Santa Maria del Monte
21100 Varese
Tel.: 0332 229223

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