The complex of buildings that form the seat of the Diocese of Mondovì has a centuries-old history that dates back to the origins of the Diocese, in the second half of the fourteenth century. To give a worthy residence to the first bishop Damiano Zoagli, the municipality of Mondovì bought this building on 23 October 1389 from the Borghese family. Forty-one bishops have inhabited and inhabit these rooms: over time, they have promoted embellishment works and the building has undergone structural work, giving it its current appearance.
Here, we enter into an area interwoven with culture. In 1560, Mondovì became a university and the house of the bishop hosted the graduation ceremonies in Law, Medicine and Theology, up until 1719: the bishop was the Grand Chancellor of the University. The tradition of Mondovì “city of studies” originates from the complex of the ancient Cathedral School, of the University, Seminary and the Jesuit College. At the end of the sixteenth century, Bishop Antonio Castrucci had already had portraits of illustrious people from Mondovì painted on the walls of this hall: others would be added between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In all, there are 69 personages portrayed starting from 1375: each portrait has an inscription with the name, title and crest, identifying the family. On the left wall there is a full figure depicted of Duke Emanuele Filiberto, who instituted the University of Mondovì. At the end of the eighteenth century, Monsignor Corte entrusted the Alexandrian architect Giuseppe Castelli with important transformation works for the building: the rooms were enlarged and the vaulted ceiling of the hall was entirely redecorated by the painter Angelo Persico, who concluded the work in 1793. Six scholars of Greek and Roman antiquity are depicted in monochrome fashion above the doors and the virtue of faith dominates the centre of the vault.
Hall of Bishops
The second room we come to is the Hall of Bishops, where the successors of Damiano Zoagli up to the present, are depicted; among them Michele Ghislieri, bishop of Mondovì from 1560 to 1566 and then Pope Pius V, and bishops of high standing as Cardian Lauro, Monsignor Casati, Monsignor Ghilardi and nearer to us, Monsignor Ressia and Monsignor Briacca. Over the fireplace is a fresco dated 1790 that represents Pope Urban VI, who erected the Diocese and assigned the title of city to Mondovì and the name Monte Regale. Below is painted a topographic map of the area, on which the main towns are outlined. At the centre of the vault is the virtue of hope.
Hall of Tapestries
Four large tapestries are exhibited in the last hall, which were woven at the beginning of the seventeenth century by the master François Van den Hecke, one of the most esteemed tapestry weavers of Brussels. The design of the tapestries belongs to Pietro Paolo Rubens; the preparatory sketches are preserved at the Gallery of the Prince of Liechtenstein in Vaduz, while the models are at the National Gallery of Art in Washington. Several episodes of the war of the Roman general Publius Decius Mus are depicted, against the Latins, narrated by Titus Livius in the eighth book of Histories. Tradition has it that the tapestries were bought in Paris by monsignor Pio Vitale at the beginning of the nineteenth century: during the Napoleonic era, works of art as these ended up at auction on the banks of the Seine. The hall also conserves a fine ivory crucifix, traditionally attributed to Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The shape of the sculpture and the elongated pose of the body are conditioned by the manufacturing material: in fact, the ivory, while being rather easy to carve, sets limits due to the reduced width of the tusks and their curvature. The virtue of charity is depicted at the centre of the vault.
Direction: Paolo Ansaldi
Post-Production: VDEA Produzioni
Translations: Europa 92
Copywriter and research: Laura Marino
ROTARY CLUB Mondovì
Tonino Rizzi, Don Beppe Bongiovanni