Parish Church of Saint John the Baptist
Erected in ancient times, between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries, on the ruins of an even older oratory, the parish church was renovated between 1581 and 1584 by the parish priest Bartolomeo Marucco, who also worked on the Saint Columbus church. The ancient building had small windows, designed with the intention of creating a dark atmosphere appropriate for meditation; with the renovations of the sixteenth century the light sources were amplified and, in 1594, under the specific demands of the bishop Bascapè, a vestibule for baptismal ceremonies was added to the church.
Originally, there was a cemeterial area inside the church that was eventually replaced with communal tombs for men (1692) and then for women (1779). Around the structure, there were graves for small boys; in the center of the third arch those for clergymen; and, finally, in the fourth those for the gentlemen of Briga. The original entrance to the church was in the back, but is now visible from the street.
Many more renovations took place in the seventeenth century, and also in the first half of the twentieth century when, thanks to Don Signini, the painter Giuseppe De Giorgi from Ossola frescoed the central area of the building and expanded it to make room for aisles along the side.
At the end of these aisles were two altars belonging to brotherhoods of immigrants: the one on the left was made of polychrome wood and dedicated to SS. Sacramento, while the one on the right was made of stucco polychrome and dedicated to the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary, and accompanied the painting of the Madonna with Child and the Dominican Saints.
A fresco depicting Saint Anthony of Padova hangs on the left naves; the altarpiece was guilded by Bersani in 1706 while the painting, whose creator is unknown, was commissioned in 1693. The baptismal font at the end of the left aisle is engraved with “1554” on the side of its base.
Hanging on the right wall of the church is a group of wooden carvings made by the carver Zanolio, from Borgomanero, in 1680: the sorrowful Madonna and Saint John the Evangelist. Originally intended to hang in a different location on the architrave of the presbytery, in 1758 the parish priest moved it to its current place. The large marble altar was finished in 1761.
The paintings hanging on the presbytery walls should be familiar, in particular Saint Grato’s and Saint Eurosia’s on the right: it was created for the Oratory of Saint Grato in the beginning of the fourteenth century to invoke his protection over the harvest and the vineyards; to the side of the saint’s figure you can even make out the ancient hilly landscapes of Briga. You can also find the eighteenth century altar piece drawn by Saint John the Baptist in the presbytery, clearly defined today thanks to a recent restoration that got rid of two overlying layers of paint that were an eighteenth century work of the painter Giuseppe Bonino from Oleggio a student of Magatti.
The sacristy is decorated along an entire wall by an eighteenth century piece of furniture created by the veritable master Gattonetto di Miasino and dated 1768. In the first bay, the fresco of the Glory of Saint John the Baptist (1784), created by Giovanni Antonio Orgiazzi from Valsesia, was found below a twentieth century painting; please note Saint Roch, Saint Julius, Saint Columbus, and Saint Eurosia on the left, and Saint Charles with the red cape, Saint Gaudentius, Saint Francis of Assisi, and Saint Julian on the right.
Open every day from 9:00 A.M – 6:00 P.M.
Parking in the front.