MONDOVÌ, Saints Peter and Paul Church
Saints Peter and Paul Church overlooks one of the most characteristic squares of Mondovì Breo, where the ancient Contrà Longa and Contrà Larga streets meet: a little city lounge, surrounded by buildings whose facades are decorated with ancient sundials and marble busts.The church was built in the second half of the fifteenth century to serve the increasingly populous Breo district. It is situated just before the hill, in a raised position compared to the residential area, recessed between the houses that are like a crown around it, however, constraining it into a narrow space.Many documents refer to a bakery next to the church that flooded the square with a fragrant smell, but with smoke too, enough to cause continuous complaints.
There is the characteristic dolphin fountain on the parvise, sculpted by the sculptor Giulio Avagnina in 1988, replacing the nineteenth century one. The facade of the church originally had simple brickwork and was preceded by a lawn and small stairway. Now it is connected to the square by a curvy staircase, which was started in 1780 by the marble artisan Giuseppe Quadròne, but completed only in the twentieth century by the Monregalese Pietro Manzo. As a commemorative plaque states, Pope Pius VII, a prisoner of Napoleon, stood on this staircase in 1809 while transiting to Mondovì. On the upper part of the facade there once was a window that opened, which was then walled up in 1900 and covered by the fresco of the Fall of Simon Magus, painted by Luigi Morgàri. Another peculiarity of this church is the presence of the Moor automaton positioned on thetop of the façade at the end of the eighteenth century, which comes out of its elegant canopy to strike the hour.
The position of the thick urban fabric was decisive in the development of the building: the fifteenth century church had three naves that were shorter than the current ones and ended with straight apses; it had no transept and had small pillars, then embedded in the eighteenth-century extension. This primitive structure is still clearly perceived in the internal spatial scansion.
The Eighteenth-Century Extension
In the XVIII century, it was decided to expand the church, transforming its appearance according to the criterions of the era: the project was entrusted to the Monregalese architect Francesco Gallo, one of the protagonists of Piedmontese art of that period. He based the expansion on the construction of two large side chapels, slightly raised and ending with elliptical apses. To start the construction site, which remained until 1755, it was necessary to purchase several of the houses attached to the churchand modify the road running along the left side. The inside of the church remained somewhat dark, but the problem was solved in 1755 by Bernardo Antonio Vittòne who placed a splendid octagonal dome at the intersection of the arms: the light and bold structure is characterised by movable profiles and many openings that allow light to flood into the entire church.Rumour has it that Vittòneachieved the design of the project without even going to Mondovì as he knew it well from doing other works there, and the construction site apparently remained there for just three months.
Design and Decoration
Inside the church there is beautiful pictorial decoration and wonderful examples of sculpture. Particularly interesting are the portrait busts of the parish priest don Giovanni Gazzano and the benefactor don Marco Antonio Bruno – respectively of 1643 and 1631 – located along the central nave.Of a slightly later date are the two completely Baroque statues placed in the choir, depicting St Philip Neri and St Francis de Sales. The wonderful crucifix of the high altar and the airy statue of the Risen Christ, belong to the eighteenth century, both attributable to Carlo Giuseppe Plura. Most of the wooden structure of the church was made by the sculptor Antonio Roasio who was much appreciated in the nineteenth century: the Entombment of Christ, St Anne with baby Mary, the Glory of St Aloysius de Gonzaga and St Elizabeth. The two canvases along the side nave are noteworthy: theMadonna with Child with Saints Peter and Paul, of the Genoese Giovanni Raffaele Badaracco and the seventeenth century Massacre of the Innocents,attributable to Antonio Mariani, called Della Còrnia. The pictorial decoration of the church dates back well into the nineteenth century: Luigi Morgàrifrescoed the apse basin with the titular saints, the dome with St Joseph and the dome of the Lady of Sorrows, while Giovanni Borgna painted the image of the Assumption of the Virgin.
Direction: Paolo Ansaldi
Post-Production: VDEA Produzioni
Translations: Europa 92
Copywriter and research: Laura Marino
ROTARY CLUB Mondovì