CASTELMAGNO, Sanctuary of Saint Magnus
The site on which now stands the sanctuary dedicated to St. Magnus, appears to have already been frequented in Roman times, as can be seen by the fragment of stone with an inscription dedicated to Mars, the god of war, found under the altar in the nineteenth century and now walled in, under the porch outside, behind the church. Valley Grana, in fact, despite not having direct access out, was certainly known to the Romans as an important crossroads for the possibility of going to Valley Stura and to Valley Maira through the Valcavera pass and the Colle del Mulo mountain pass. A small fourteenth century church has already been attested in this place, but it is from 1475 that devotion became more felt, when the parish priest Enrico Allemandi decided to build a new chapel. The first expansion took place at the beginning of the sixteenth century, followed by a further and final one in 1703. In 1861, on the design of Antonio Bono, the arcades and meeting rooms were built.
The Allemandi Chapel
Around 1450, the priest Enrico Allemandi was appointed Rector of the churches in the area of Castelmagno; as can be read on the inscription on the right wall, approximately twenty five years later, he had a chapel built and decorated, flanked by an 18 metre high bell tower to celebrate the anniversary of his priesthood. Today, the chapel is the most ancient part of the sanctuary; it is decorated with frescoes by Pietro Pocapaglia from Saluzzo, who depicted evangelists, doctors of the church and God the Father in mandorla on the rib vaults; along the walls, albeit in a fragmentary state, you can see episode of the life of Saint Magnus and the remains of a cavalcade of vices behind the altar.
The Botoneri Chapel
Few decades after the decoration of the Allemandi chapel, it was decided to expand the sanctuary, probably due to the large influx of pilgrims. Therefore, the place, commonly known as the Botoneri chapel was built, named after the painter that frescoed it in 1514, as can be seen by the inscription above the entrance door. Along the walls are painted the Passion of Christ, which culminate in the Crucifixion on the triumphal arch; several panels however, depict the main devotions of the territory, as the seven martyrs of the Theban legion (here exceptionally depicted together), Saint Michael weighing the soul of a dead man, Saint James performing the miracle of Saint Dominic de la Calzada, saving a young pilgrim, unjustly hanged.
The Eighteenth Century Church
At the beginning of the eighteenth century, the bishop of Saluzzo, under whose jurisdiction fell the Valley Grana until 1817, decided to build a new body onto the sanctuary that was even more impressive and oriented perpendicular to the most ancient part. In 1703, the master builder Giuseppe Galletto went up to Castelmagno to trace the perimeter of the new church, whose construction began the following year and was completed in 1716. In the following decades, the decor was created: the marble altar by the masters Scala and Petrini is of 1775, while many of the canvasses were done by the Botta painters of Cuneo, to whom we owe the apostolate, Saint Rocco and the Immaculate.
There are actually three different myths referring to the figure of Saint Magnus: according to one tradition, he is a local evangelizer, partner of Saint Dalmatius; the frescoes on the walls of the Allemandi Chapel depict him as one of the martyrs of the Theban Legion; finally, a more recent tradition refers to a Swiss monk descending from Saint Columbanus. This multiplicity of traditions is supported by the presence of the eighteenth-century statue of the saint as a Theban and as a monk, sculpted by Beppe Viada in 1991.
The Votive Offerings
In all the different depictions of Saint Magnus, his ability to protect animals that serve man is common, with particular reference to cattle, extremely valuable in this area as many of the votive offerings show. The pastoral visits of the past centuries reiterate on several occasions, the ban to bring animals inside the church and on the altar for blessing. It is worth mentioning that this type of protection is also characteristic of Mars, whose cult is not surprisingly attested in Roman times in this place.
Direction: Paolo Ansaldi
Post-Production: VDEA Produzioni
Translations: Europa 92
Copywriter and research: Laura Marino
ROTARY CLUB Cuneo 1925
Don Ezio Mandrile