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Mandello del Lario (Lecco, Italy): Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of the River

Foto Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of the River
Foto Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of the River
Foto Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of the River
Foto Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of the River
Foto Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of the River
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Places  of historical value  of artistic value around Milan (Italy): Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of the RiverAccording to tradition at the beginning of the year 1600 the river Meria, swollen by intense rains, dragged a small chapel into the lake in which a miraculous image of the Virgin Mary painted on a stone was kept. A few days later the image was found, miraculously preserved, in the river bed near the lake. At the finding point the inhabitants of the village decided to build a church in her honor, with the rediscovered image placed in the retable as altarpiece.

The construction of the building began in 1625, by the will of the community and on the impulse of a large donation by the noble Airoldi family. Between 1633 and 1638 the plastic ornamentation of the presbytery and of the nave of the church were carried out, as well as the frescoes of the vault and of the intrados of the triumphal arch. The decoration of the walls of the church were carried out between 1736 and 1756. The construction of the sacristy dates back to around 1670 while the portico was built in 1682. Outside there are the chapels of the Via Crucis, built between the end of 1700 and the beginning of 1800. At the beginning of the last century the original paintings of chapels were replaced by reproductions on plates. The octagonal bell tower dates back to 1812.

The building has an irregular octagonal shape, with alternating long and short sides, partly masked by the presence at the front of a large portico with nine arches supported by granite columns and by a deep polygonal apse at the back. The side that constitutes the facade coincides with one of the long sides. The bell tower is leaning against the left side, while at the top of the roof there is a lantern.

The interiors are richly decorated with stuccoes and frescoes in late Baroque style.
The vault is decorated with a trompe l'oeil fresco to simulate a circular room at the top open to the sky. At the apex of the walls of this imaginary circular room there is a balustrade enriched with vases of flowers around which there are putti and musician angels. The twelve apostles are depicted in the lunettes.
The internal walls are divided by pilasters. On the counter façade there is a choir loft. It houses an organ inside a rich gilded stucco frame including angels, cherubs and a cherub head.
The short walls all have the same decorative structure. At the base an oval depicting a scene from the life of Mary in a sumptuous Baroque trompe l'oeil frame. In the center, in a niche with a richly decorated frame with gilded stucco, a statue of a character from the Old Testament (David, Solomon, Isaiah and Micah). At the top, also in this case within a mixtilinear trompe l'oeil frame, the representation of one of the evangelists.
The long side walls are occupied below by the side doors and above by two paintings depicting episodes from the life of the Virgin Mary (Flight into Egypt and Birth of the Virgin) inside elaborate stucco frames at the top of which there is an angel flanked by two cherubs.
Note also the statues placed at the top of the pilasters at the corners of the walls. They depict various saints revered by the community. In particular, San Rocco and San Sebastiano can be recognized on the sides of the entrance.
Particularly rich is the decoration of the apsidal basin: gilded stucco frames underline the division into segments of the apse and enclose panels depicting the Assumption (central segment) and putti and musician angels. Other scenes of musician angels are depicted in two of the four lunettes (the other two are occupied by windows). On the walls, surrounded by sumptuous frames in gilded stucco, four large paintings commissioned in 1696 to the painter Giacomo Antonio Sant'Agostino and depicting episodes from the life of the Virgin: Annunciation, Visitation, Nativity and Presentation in the Temple.
The retable, having an architectural structure and richly decorated with golden cherubs, garlands and cherub heads, acts in practice as a sumptuous frame for the miraculously rediscovered sacred image. This image, depicting a Virgin with Child wrapped in a blue mantle, was inserted into the retable as an altarpiece only in 1793.

Categories: Places of historical value of artistic value


Via Falk, 3, 23826 Mandello del Lario LC
Further pictures of Santuario della Beata Vergine del Fiume in the section Photography
Mandello del Lario (Lecco, Italy): Absidal basin of the Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of the River
Mandello del Lario (Lecco, Italy): Interior of the apse of the Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of the River