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Montevecchia (Lecco, Italy): Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of Carmel

Foto Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of Carmel
Foto Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of Carmel
Foto Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of Carmel
Foto Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of Carmel
Foto Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of Carmel
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Places  of historical value  of artistic value  of landscape value around Milan (Italy): Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of CarmelThe Sanctuary of Montevecchia, or, better, the Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of the Carmel of Montececchia, is located in a splendid panoramic position on the hill overlooking the built-up area of Montevecchia.

The complex includes the main body of the church placed in an elevated position on the top of the hill, the canonical house leaning on the southern side of the church and arranged on two levels and to the north a minor body which includes the chapel of the brotherhood, which constitutes a real oratory, and the sacristy.

A first version of the church was already present at the beginning of the thirteenth century. In fact it was a chapel, dedicated to "S. Giovanni Battista in Montaegia" and associated with the even older watchtower, located at the top of the Montevecchia hill. This tower was later transformed into the bell tower of the church and as such is still in existence.
In 1564 the small church on the hill was recognized as a parish.
Between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the current temple was built, perhaps on the ruins of the previous church, always as a parish church dedicated to S. Giovanni Decollato; patroness the Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel.
It is certain that there was a cemetery around the church on the northwest side.

In 1854 the parish of Montevecchia was detached from the comunity of Missaglia and annexed to the new vicarage of Merate.

The current sanctuary was a parish church until the years 1928-1930, that is, until the inauguration of the new parish church, built further below.
The new church assumed the title of S. Giovanni Battista Decollato, which had been the title of the primitive thirteenth-century chaplaincy and of the sixteenth-century church on the hill.
The latter then began to be considered and frequented as a Marian sanctuary in honor of the Virgin of the Mount Carmel, who was, from the beginning, parochial co-patron. In 1945 Cardinal Schuster officially ratified the passage of the title.

The sanctuary is located at the top of the hill overlooking Montevecchia and can only be reached by walking up a long staircase of 180 steps that runs along the side of the hill towards the town.
Just below the sanctuary, the staircase is intersected by a circular path that runs all around the sanctuary itself and along which sixteen eighteenth-century sandstone niches with sculptures representing scenes from the Passion of Christ are positioned.

The church is in ancient Baroque style, therefore still very simple and sober. The facade is characterized by the presence of a large pronaos supported by four granite columns. The access door appears framed by a stone portal.
On the left, integrated into the facade, there is the so-called Small Chapel of the Dead, accessible only from the outside. The parish priests are probably buried in it. The fresco on a wall representing the Blessed Virgin of Carmel who frees souls from the flames of purgatory would confirm this.

Internally the church has a single nave, with cross vaults. A particularity is represented by the fact that the presbytery and the apse, in practice equivalent to the terminal part of the nave, are not in fact in line with the latter, but are oriented a little more to the left.
The interior is illuminated by rectangular windows placed immediately below the ceiling. Note that on the left side the first three are fake.

The church has side chapels, however asymmetrically distributed: four on the left side when entering, one on the right side. Where the chapels are missing, the wall is decorated with frescoes or occupied by paintings. Starting from the entrance and considering the various spans you have:

  • First span:On the left Chapel of St. Francis. In the past it was the baptistery.
    It houses a seventeenth-century wooden sculptural group which represents "The ecstasy of the seraphic supported by an angel, while receiving the stigmata".
    In front of the effigy of the saint, embedded in a log, you can admire a beautiful sixteenth-century processional wooden Crucifix.
    There is nothing on the right.

  • Second span: On the left there is the Sant'Antonio Chapel (Fig. 3), richly decorated in Baroque style. It was completed in 1697 probably in memory of a person buried in it. The frescoes on the walls are eighteenth-century and reproduce episodes from the life of Sant'Antonio: the mule of the marquis which kneels in front of the Blessed Sacrament, on the right wall; the Saint who visits the prisoners, on the left wall; the healing of the foot, on the right lunette; the saint helping the children on the left lunette; the glory of the saint on the dome.
    The altar is dominated by a rich retable in the center of which, in a special niche, there is a statue of the Saint with a child, in old wood, among dark marble ornaments. Under the shelf you can admire an ancient embroidered silk antependium.
    On the right there is a large oil painting by an anonymous author of the eighteenth century, representing San Speridione and San Grato.

  • Third span: On the left side, through a door, you enter the Chapel "S. Carlo” of the confraternity, in fact a small oratory in its own right and in turn communicating with the sacristy. On the ceiling there is a fresco depicting the sacrifice of Abraham. In the chapel there is a portable baroque carved and gilded wooden canopy, with four floral columns, which connect to a dome surmounted by cherubs and pendants. Equipped with special poles it is used to carry the statue of the Virgin in procession.
    Above the access door to the chapel thre is a large fresco depicting the Nativity.
    On the right side another fresco by the same artist, this time however depicting the Crucifixion.

  • Fourth span: On both sides there is a confessional surmounted by an internal balcony with a curvilinear balustrade.

  • Fifth span: On the left there is the S. Bernardo Chapel (Fig. 5). Originally the chapel was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin of Carmel, whose statue remained in this chapel until the years 1928-1930, as co-patron.
    When the former parish church became the Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of Carmel, this statue was placed above the main altar. In 1991 a wooden statue depicting Saint Bernard was inserted in the niche in the center of the rich baroque retable in polychrome marble (placed above an altar also in polychrome marble) of the chapel.
    All the surfaces of the chapel are frescoed: on the left the Ascension of Elijah on the chariot of fire while throwing the cloak to Elisha, on the right the Delivery of the scapular by the Virgin to Simone Stock, on the vault decorative angels.
    On the right there is the Chapel of San Giovanni (Fig. 4), dedicated to St. John the Baptist Beheaded. On the side walls there are two frescoes representing Saint John baptizing Jesus and Saint John pointing out the "Lamb of God" to the crowds. The altarpiece ("Beheading of the Baptist") is a copy of the original that Bernardino Campi painted in the mid-sixteenth century and which is now kept in the Diocesan Museum of Milan.

Presbytery and apse can be considered, structurally, the terminal part of the nave, even if, as mentioned, they bend slightly to the left with respect to the nave.
The presbytery houses a large baroque altar in polychrome marble. The front is decorated with a scagliola antependium, while above it there is a small temple in polychrome marble inside which there is the statue of the Blessed Virgin of Carmel in painted and gilded wood.
On the walls there are two large frescoes depicting the Collection of the Manna (right) and the Last Supper (left).
The lower part of the walls of the apse is occupied by a carved wooden choir with simple and elegant shapes.

Lastly, the presence on the counterfacade of a cantoria with a organ by Biroldi dating back to the end of the eighteenth century and restored in the late 80s of the last century should be noted.

Categories: Places of historical value of artistic value of landscape value

Via Belvedere, 49, 23874 Montevecchia LC
Further pictures of Santuario della Beata Vergine del Carmelo in the section Photography
Montevecchia (Lecco, Italy): Chapel San Carlo of the Brotherhood  in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Carmel
Montevecchia (Lecco, Italy): Canvas depicting the Saints Speridione and Grato in the Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of Carmel
Montevecchia (Lecco, Italy): Nativity in the Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of Carmel
Montevecchia (Lecco, Italy): Beam placed above the entrance to the presbytery of the Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of Carmel