CHURCH OF SAINT MARTHA

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Facing the Parish Church is the Church of Saint Martha, former site of the St. Martha’s Confraternity and today the parish centre.

There are documents indicating that the school has been there since 1387 while the church was first mentioned in a pastoral visit by Gabriele Sforza in 1455. Except for a late Gothic Pietà on the façade and a fragmentary Saint James in the first chapel on the left, mentioned by Bartolomeo Benzi of Turin, the altarpiece and paintings described in that text have since disappeared.

The precious wooden assembly of nine full-sized statues depicting the Deposition, attributed to Giovanni Angelo Del Maino who was active from 1496 to 1536, can still be seen.

The façade, the result of the works modifying the layout of the old church, preserves the small gothic arches while the portal with swan’s neck pediment surmounted by a niche bearing a statue of St. John the Baptist, most likely dating to 1589, the year in which the school merged with the Archconfraternity of the Lateran Basilica in Rome. The splendid stucco and fresco decoration covering the dome dates to just a few years before (1582): Prophets and Sibyls inhabit the intrados of the two surviving arches, Major Prophets in the pendentives, Saints Nazarius and Celsus and Saints Martha and Mary Magdalen in the drum, while allegorical figures and angels bearing the symbols of the Passion bedeck the vault sections. In the Presbytery, the sturdy, asymmetrical arrangement of grafts with a system of composite semipilasters most likely dates to the 1500s. The church has various renovations dating to the XVII century: the bell tower, the interesting benches in the presbytery of rustic local workmanship, the sacristy furnishings, the oldest pieces in the treasury and some paintings including The Vision of the Madonna and Child to Saint Anthony of Padua in the first chapel to the right by an artist of the Morazzone school, Mary and Martha pleading with Christ (rare iconography) on the main altar, and two round paintings depicting Saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist.

The decoration in the presbytery was completed in 1706 with two large paintings of the Miracles of St. Martha.

The oval depicting the Madonna and Child and Saint Michael as Guardian Angel and Saint Nicholas of Tolentino, attributed to Pietro Ligari, are found in the chapel built in 1739 and most likely date from the same period. The Confraternity was disbanded in 1786.

 

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