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Biella- Church of San Sebastiano

Foto Church of San Sebastiano -  of historical value  of artistic value
Foto Church of San Sebastiano -  of historical value  of artistic value
Foto Church of San Sebastiano -  of historical value  of artistic value
Foto Church of San Sebastiano -  of historical value  of artistic value
Foto Church of San Sebastiano -  of historical value  of artistic value
Show to visit in the Biella area:
Places  of historical value  of artistic value in the Biella area: Church of San SebastianoThe Church (or Basilica) of San Sebastiano in Biella represents a treasure of art and history that would deserve to be more known and visited.
Although the actual façade was only completed in 1885 by Andrea Bona of Vercelli, the interior is, except for some details of later periods, a valuable example of Renaissance sacred architecture. The church was edified from 1504 to 1551, following the transfer of the Lateranese Congregation to Biella in the years 1498-1499 and was built on the project of the Finance General at the Court of the Savoy Sebastiano Ferrero.
It was constructed with a Latin cross plant and it includes three naves: a central one with a barrel vault, and two lateral ones, with crossed vaults.
Due to the fact that the width and the height of the lateral aisles are only slightly smaller than those of the central nave, that the building is relatively short, that the transept is not protruding and that the apses are very deep (especially the central one), the church appears to the visitor almost square.
The celings of the naves, the internal surfaces of the arches separating the naves, and also the areas between them, were decorated by Gerolamo de Tornielli from Novara around 1519 with grotesque motifs, inside which there are inserted cartouches and rounds depicting Saints and Blessed of the Lateranense Order. Note the resemblance of the ceiling with that of the Church of San Vittore in Meda.
The barrel vault of the central nave also extends to the central apse. In this case the decoration made of squares reminds that of the dome of the Church of Santa Maria della Passione in Milan.

Church of San Sebastiano - of historical value  of artistic value Foto6
Church of San Sebastiano - of historical value  of artistic value Foto
Church of San Sebastiano - of historical value  of artistic value Foto
Church of San Sebastiano - of historical value  of artistic value Foto
Church of San Sebastiano - of historical value  of artistic value Foto

The dome of the church, outside surrounded by a tiburium, was decorated only in 1866 by Adolfo Morgari (also involved among others in the decoration of the Church of Santa Francesca Romana in Milan and of the Church of Santa Maria Assunta in Carpignano Sesia). From the photos it seems that the figures in the niches at the base of the dome are made of flat silhouettes painted in monochromatic and embedded within real niches.
The two transept arms are richly decorated. On the rear wall of the left one there is a fresco of the Annunciation, divided into two parts and with in the center the narrative of the life of Sebastiano Ferrero. The delicate monochrome ceiling decoration is attributed to Bernardino Lanino. The right arm includes various sepulchral monuments. In particular, the great funeral statue (1877) carved by Odoardo Tabacchi for the tomb of Giovanna Berthie Mathew, wife of General Alfonso Lamarmora, and the bust of Alfonso Lamarmora himself, by Vincenzo Vela.
Among the various chapels, the most remarkable one is certainly that of the Crucifixion, whose walls are completely occupied by a large fresco of Milanese school depicting Christ on the cross between the two thieves. In the background you can recognize the city of Biella, the Church of S. Gerolamo and the Castle of Zumaglia. Finally, the Deposition is depicted in the lunette.
On the wall at the bottom of the right apse there is a polyptych by Bernardino Lanino on the theme of the Assumption and the life of the Virgin. Below the right apse there is the crypt-tomb where the descendants of Sebastiano Ferrero rest, including Alfonso Lamarmora, founder of the horse artillery regiment "Voloire" and Alessandro Lamarmora, founder of the Bersaglieri.
The left apse, that is, the Chapel of St. Sebastian, contains the three lunettes that were present above the entrances of the church before being replaced with the present ones.
As far as the main apse is concerned, worthy of note are in particular the main altar from 1761 made of polychrome marble and the beautiful sixteenth-century carved wood choir by Gerolamo de Mellis da Vespolate, which contains a series of small Limoges medallions in chamoette enamel of the first half of the twelfth century, embellished in the in the upper part as decorative elements.
Contemporary to the church is finally the bell tower, which reaches a height of 51 meters, is lightened on each side by monoforas and biforas and is topped by an octagonal spire.

The Church of San Sebastiano was originally flanked by the convent built together with it to accommodate the Lateranani Regular Canonics, to which Ferrero had destined the church. In 1798 the Lateranese Canonics were suppressed and the monastery lost its function. Over the years it was first used as barracks, then as hospice of charity and finally as school; in 1986 the comunity of Biella started the restoration and now it hosts the Museum of the Territory. Recent renovations have highlighted the various epochs of its construction and brought back to light parts of ancient pictorial decorations.
Currently the Basilica is owned by the municipality of Biella and is guarded by the Franciscan Friars of the Piedmont Region.

More pictures of the church in the Photography section of this web site

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via Quintino Sella 59, 13900, Biella, (BI)