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Culture by Nature

Cuore verde tra due laghi
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Cuore verde tra due laghi

Church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary

Briga Novarese

The Church of the Nativity, also known as the Church of the Madonna, is a short walk from the Parish Church of Saint John the Baptist. The eighteenth century building houses an ancient depiction of the Madonna with Child that originally decorated the chapel of Saint Roch.

Dating back to the fifteenth century, the Virgin, an object of great popular devotion, is what remains of a fresco which once included, on either side of the throne, two saints (one of which, in all probability, was Saint Roch, to whom the chapel was dedicated). The large gilded frame that surrounds the painting is also invaluable, made in the seventeenth century by the engraver Giuseppe Zanolio from Borgomanero.

The fifteenth century fresco is attributed with certainty to the famous artist Tommaso Cagnola from Novara based on stylistic comparison: although no official documents accompany the fresco, the comparison of the picture to that with the same subject (and signature) painted by Cagnola in the Gelata Oratory in Soriso makes art historians sure that Cagnola is indeed the artist.

The two paintings are nearly identical; not only the general structure of the scene, with the Madonna hugging her Son, kneeling, richly dressed in a long dark damask tunic, but also the faces, sweet expressions, daisy-like halos, crown with flowers on its points, and even the canopied throne seem to be traces of each other.

The fresco in Briga represents a priceless historical account because its various sections are integrated (the lower part of the Soriso image is, in fact, a recreation of the back); it is also progressive from an iconographic point of view. The humanized Virgin becomes a daily, universal protector; thus many people wanted to build a new, elegant structure around the ancient fresco, which is also emphasized by its invaluable, majestic gilded frame.

Closed but open to visitors upon request.

Further Information

Church of the Nativity
Tel. +39 0322 94108