Culture by Nature

Cuore verde tra due laghi
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Cuore verde tra due laghi

Church of the Purification of the Virgin Mary

Massino Visconti

A stairway takes you up to the courtyard of the parish church, a beautiful spot from which you can look down at the castle below. The building you see today was gradually developed through the centuries to augment the original, an oratory with a small abbey, discussed in an 887 document.

The church was called Saint Mary foris portas, or outside the walls. In 1585 the church became the official parish church of Massino in part because of the impracticability of using the Church of Saint Michael due to the landslide that devastated the town that year. Walled up within the outer wall to the left are some Visconti sepulchral stones.

The Romanesque bell tower was reconstructed in its current position on the southern wall following its 1932 demolition. The inside of the church has three naves; on the sides, a series of magnificent rich shrines with their marble and wooden altars from the Baroque era: from left to right, the first, from the twentieth century, represents Saint Liberata, followed by shrines dedicated to Saint Joseph and Our Lady of the Rosary. The main Baroque altar is made of marble and hosts a statue of the Madonna dating back to 1887, followed by the viscount shrine, dedicated long ago to Saint Agnes, the patron saint of lineage, close to the family’s sepulchers. Within the four sails of this chapel’s vault stand the Doctors of the Church together with the symbols of the evangelists: Saint Gregory the Great and the eagle, Saint Ambrose and the ox, Saint Augustine and the angel, and Saint Jerome with the lion; below the arch stand six figures of prophets and, on the back wall, rather deteriorated sixteenth century frescoes that depicts the Assumption scene with the musical angels. At the bottom of the painting you can just make out the empty sarcophagus, with some apostles in the act of receiving the Virgin’s girdle.
Moving along, you will see the new shrine to Saint Agnes, with its seventeenth century altar and statue, a shrine to the Crucifixion, and, finally, the chapel that includes the baptismal font and the ancient wooden main altar dating back to the seventeenth century. From here you can return to the parking lot by walking along the small characteristic village streets that are carefully, even jealously, maintained in their uniqueness. You could also continue on foot towards Monte San Salvatore (Mount Saint Salvatore).

Further Information

Church of the Purification of the Virgin Mary
Tel. +39 0322 219117