FOSSANO, Confraternity of the Holy Trinity (Battuti Rossi)
The birth of the Confraternity
At the beginning of the XIV century, a Confraternity of the Crucified Christ already existed in Fossano that handed out alms and welcomed needy and foreign pilgrims. In the middle of the sixteenth century, another two confraternities were born from this Confraternity, the Bianchi and the Neri; the main Confraternity, dedicated to the holy Trinity, would take care of administering the hospital, now more devoted to the hospitality of the poor and sick, than of pilgrims, as it originally was. The cassocks of the confreres would be red, hence the name “Battuti Rossi”. At this stage, the oratory and hospital were in a city quarter in the historic centre, now via Ancina. The furnishings of this ancient building are now preserved in the Diocesan Museum.
The church and the hospital
The areas of the old hospital had become too restricted and the location in the city centre was not very hygienic. Therefore, in the first half of the eighteenth century, a new site was chosen, in the area adjacent to the walls next to the Romanisio Gateway. The Twenties saw the start of the construction site, designed by Francesco Gallo. In the following decade, the architect from Mondovì was engaged in the construction of the church, built between 1730 and 1739. The complex has a compact brickwork, typical of Gallo’s architecture; the bricks were fired directly on site, in a furnace located in the square. The church soon became the fulcrum of the southern part of the city, a place of connection between the large hospital and the main city quarter. The Holy Trinity, a work by Luigi Gambera, is painted on the beautiful curve-shaped façade.
The interior has Greek cross architecture, with two side chapels and a deep semi-circular presbytery. There are twelve small choirs along the perimeter, from which the hospital patients could attend the celebrations. The space is dominated by pastel shades and by the white of the stuccos: the area is expanded by the fake architectures in which flower vases, angel musicians and evangelical figures are inserted. The decoration was entrusted to artists that we often find to be co-workers of Francesco Gallo: the brothers Pietro Antonio and Giovanni Pietro Pozzo for the fake architectures, Michele Antonio Milocco for the frescoes, Cipriano Beltramelli and Bernardino Barelli for the stuccos. The floor was redone in 1832, when the terracotta cladding was replaced by Barge stone, recovered from the Cathedral Chapter.
The high altar is adorned with the beautiful oval canvas of Michele Antonio Milocco, datable to around 1738: the Holy Trinity is depicted with great emphasis, to whom the church is named. Images referring to the Trinity are present throughout the building, not only in the paintings but also in the furnishings and finishes. The altars of the side chapels are also interesting: on the right, the Massacre of the Innocents by Luigi Gambera, a painter from Fossano, on the left, the Stoning of Saint Stephen, painted in 1832 by Giuseppe Bianco from Turin.
Ten ovals open along the perimeter of the hall containing as many busts made in 1913 by the sculptor Giuseppe Erbetta. The busts were commissioned by Tommaso Panero and represent saints, the blessed and biblical characters. Saint Thomas specifically refers to the name of the client while the Blessed Oddino refers to the founder of the primordial hospital.
At the beginning of the seventeenth century, the confreres decreed that «to honour the memory of the distinguished benefactors of the hospital, oil paintings will portray them». Thus, a tradition was born that has strengthened and extended over time to other charitable organisations, giving Fossano a great wealth of portraits. From the beginning of the eighteenth century to date, these portraits have been displayed throughout the streets of the city during the celebrations of the Patron Saint.
Direction: Paolo Ansaldi
Post-Production: VDEA Produzioni
Translations: Europa 92
Copywriter and research: Laura Marino
ROTARY CLUB Cuneo 1925
Gian Piero Dadone, Mario Basso