The Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie

The Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie


Located at the foot of the slope that leads from Piazza Gaudenzio Ferrari to the Sacred Mount and flanked by the convent of the Missionary Nuns of Jesus Eternal Priest, Santa Maria delle Grazie is considered the prologue to the experience of the Sacred Mount. Its history is closely linked to the ancient Franciscan community led by Father Bernardino Caimi, to whom we owe the creation of the Sacred Mount of Varallo complex.


History and origins


The church was built almost simultaneously to the architectural complex of the Sacred Mount. It was at the end of the fifteenth century, between 1486 and 1493, specifically at the base of the devotional trail of the Sacred Mount that the construction of the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie and of the adjacent Franciscan convent began by will of Bernardino Caimi. The building is in a simple late-Gothic style and maintained the architectural features of the Franciscan convent churches, with a big partition (the so-called "tramezzo") that separated the space reserved to the friars from the space reserved to the public. In 1513, Gaudenzio Ferrari painted on this partition wall one of his most valuable works of art: a large fresco that is still known today as the "Parete Gaudenziana".


The "Parete Gaudenziana”


Considered a monument of national importance and an undisputed masterpiece of Renaissance art between Piedmont and Lombardy, the Parete Gaudenziana is an impressive fresco covering the entire partition wall of the church. Gaudenzio Ferrari chose to paint scenes from the life and passion of Jesus, starting with the Annunciation and ending with the Resurrection, splitting them into 21 frescoed panels painted with masterly communication and artistic skills. It is impossible not to be charmed by the majesty of the work: the wall is 8 meters high and more than 10 meters wide. It is also impossible not to notice the perfect correspondence between the scenes represented on the Parete Gaudenziana and the representations inside the Chapels that dot the Sacred Mount, as to remind us that both places are part of a single project and that the journey of the spiritual ascent of the Sacred Mount has its true beginning here.


Statua di Gaudenzio FerrariLa Parete Gaudenziana