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Oggiono (Lecco): Baptistery of San Giovanni Battista

Foto Baptistery of San Giovanni Battista
Foto Baptistery of San Giovanni Battista
Foto Baptistery of San Giovanni Battista
Foto Baptistery of San Giovanni Battista
Foto Baptistery of San Giovanni Battista
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Places  of historical value  of artistic value around Milan (Italy): Baptistery of San Giovanni BattistaThe Baptistery of San Giovanni is undoubtedly the most valuable historical and artistic monument of Oggiono and represents one of the most significant examples of Lombard Romanesque.

HISTORY
It was probably built in the eleventh century, replacing a previous building erected between the eighth and ninth centuries.
In the Baroque period, in the first half of the eighteenth century, it was transformed into a sacristy. Its structure was heavily altered, with among other things the closure of the original windows and entrance, the insertion above the entrance of a large baroque window completely out of context, the addition of a connecting wall with the adiacent church of Sant'Eufemia. The interior was also heavily altered, in particular with the plastering of the surfaces. To better adhere the plaster, the frescoes of the apse, in particular, were not only hidden, but even hammered, so as to damage them irreversibly.
The current appearance is due to the restoration work that took place between 1932 and 1940, commissioned by the parish priest, Don Gottifredi, at the invitation of the bishop of Milan Cardinal Schuster.

STRUCTURE
Exterior

The building is octagonal in shape. On the east side there is a semicircular apse as wide as the whole side and slightly lower. The wall structure is in exposed sandstone blocks.
The corners are underlined by thin half-columns set on low pedestals and ending in small cubic capitals with rounded edges.
The upper edge of the external walls is decorated with hanging arches and, above them, a band of small stone blocks arranged in a sawtooth.
The side that houses the entrance is delimited by two pilasters and the half-columns are moved between them and the entrance. It also has an additional decoration consisting of two stone lozenges inserted flush with the wall.
The door is surmounted by a stone monolith (unfortunately broken up in the eighteenth century) which as a shape corresponds to the sum of the architrave and a hemispherical lunette. Above it an arch formed by stones decorated with segmented lines.
The wall structure is interrupted by a total of seven splayed rectangular single-light windows: three on the southern side, one on the northern side and three, smaller ones, in the apse.
The roof of the baptistery consists of a tuff dome covered with slabs of local stone.

Interior
The internal environment is circular, with walls marked by thin sandstone half-columns, similar to those on the outside as a type but not corresponding to them as the position. Four arrive up to the roof, two, with cubic stone capitals, support the front of the double arch that connects the main space with the apse. The latter is in proportion very large, well lit by three splayed single-lancet windows and is equipped along its entire base with a stone seat. The altar is recent.
At the center of the main space there is what remains of the baptismal font, which, as typical of ancient baptisteries, consisted of a real basin, here octagonal and built with stones and limestone tuff covered with pinkish cement to waterproof it. Originally it must have been higher. A modern baptismal font has ben added on one side.
Around the baptismal font runs a circular corridor with a cocciopesto floor (partly preserved and now covered with wooden boards). It is enclosed on three sides by the remains of the perimeter walls of the previous version of the baptistery.
Note, on the right and left of the entrance door, two openings with an architrave surmounted by an arch. They lead to two stairs located in the thickness of the perimeter wall: the one on the right is truncated at half height; the left one continues up to almost reach the roof. It can be assumed that they led to a matroneum, a structure of which there is nothing left.
Finally, the connecting door to the Church of Sant'Eufemia was added when it was rebuilt (around 1620).

Frescoes
The restoration works of the years 1997-1999 made it possible to recover at least a part of the frescoes originally present.

  • Of the frescoes in the apse, which in Romanesque times must have been entirely frescoed, unfortunately little has remained: the hand of a Christ Pantocrator is still recognizable, a part of the almond around him, a fragment of the figure symbolizing Matthew and fragments of a group of Saints, probably the Apostles.

  • The frescoes on the walls, in late Gothic and early Renaissance style, date back to the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Starting from the entrance and going clockwise you have:
  • Sant'Eufemia, to which the church next to the baptistery is dedicated. In the left hand she has the book of Catholic doctrine, in the right hand the palm of martyrdom. Under her feet the dragon of heresy.

  • A box with the saints Rocco and Sebastiano, invoked during the plagues. Both are depicted unusually young.

  • Immediately after the door connecting to the church, a St. John the Baptist with the crucified Lamb.

  • Immediately to the right of the apse there is an elegant Madonna in Throne with Child on a brocade background. Next to it, inside the same box, a St. Bernard, unfortunately seriously damaged by the subsequent insertion of a niche in the wall.

  • In a frame larger and more decorated than the others there is the figure of a young man dressed in an elegant manner and with a crowned and haloed head, holding a pomegranate in his right hand.

  • Santa Odilia, in black monastic dress and holding a small plate containing two eyes.

  • A San Sebastian accompanied by a dog.

  • Still a Madonna in Throne with Child, between Saints Sebastiano and Rocco (also here with a small dog).


It should be noted that in some frescoes some graffiti about historical episodes have been engraved (in particular the beginning of the construction of the current version church and the beginning of the works for the transformation of the baptistery into the sacristy).

Categories: Places of historical value of artistic value


Piazza della Chiesa 23848 Oggiono - Lecco
Further pictures of Battistero di San Giovanni Battista in the section Photography
Oggiono (Lecco, Italy): Interior of the Baptistery of San Giovanni Battista