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Lenta (Vercelli, Italy): Parish Church of San Pietro

Foto Parish Church of San Pietro
Foto Parish Church of San Pietro
Foto Parish Church of San Pietro
Foto Parish Church of San Pietro
Foto Parish Church of San Pietro
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Places  of historical value  of artistic value around Milan (Italy): Parish Church of San PietroOriginally the parish church of Lenta was represented by what is today the St Stephen's Church and the church that was where the church described on this page is now, was the church of the nuns of Castle Benedictine Monastery of San Pietro and already earlier an even older Paleo-Romanesque church already existed on the site. After the nuns had moved to Vercelli in 1573, the community of Lenta bought the property of the church and the seat of the parish was transferred in it.
In 1694 the current bell tower was built, of considerable size. Two years later, in 1696, the parish priest of the time, Don Perotto, decided to build a new church, the one visible on this page. Its construction took three centuries to complete. Indeed, the church was already consecrated in 1708, but the central nave was completed only in 1714. From 1830, following the purchase of further parts of the monastery, work resumed with the aim of enlarging the church, in particular by doubling the number of chapels and adding the sacristy. Finally, the façade was completed only in 1895.

The façade is on two orders, with the two orders delimited above by a thick brick-colored frame that clearly stands out from the white surfaces. Punctuated by pilasters with Corinthian capitals, it culminates on top with a large pediment with a cherub's head in the centre, also highlighted by brick-coloured borders.
At the center of the lower order is the entrance, flanked by two niches containing statues of saints: Saint Olympus on the left and St Blaise on the right. Two other niches with statues of saints are present in the upper order: St. Peter on the left and St. Joseph on the right. Between them a large rectangular window.
The large bell tower is located halfway up the right side of the church. It is entirely in exposed brick. The belfry has a large serliana on each side.
It should be noted that other buildings are built all around the church, so that only a small part of the exterior is visible.
The interior of the church has a single nave without transept, with three chapels on each side. The vault is a barrel vault with lunettes. In some lunettes there is a rectangular window, in the others the window is only painted, to simulate symmetry. Overall, the church is rather bright, given that other windows are also present in the presbytery and in the choir and in the side chapels. The joint lines of the surfaces of the church ceiling are underlined by stucco frames. Within mixtilinear frames are furthermore represented figures linked to the scriptures and the history of the Church.
The side walls are punctuated by pairs of pilasters with gilded Corinthian capitals.
The side chapels are as follows (starting from the entrance):
First chapel on the left (Fig. 3): It is dedicated to St. John the Baptist and functions as a baptistery. It is deep, with a barrel vault with lunettes and is delimited by a stone balustrade. The altar is dominated by a large carved wooden retable with an architectural structure. On the left, in correspondence with the baptismal font, there is a large marble frame with a representation of the baptism of Christ.
The vault and walls are decorated with partly stylized floral and vegetable motifs.
On the left wall there is also a canvas, attributed to Guglielmo Caccia (who lived between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and was also known as the Moncalvo) or to his school, which depicts the biblical story of Tobiolo.
Second left chapel: It is dedicated to the crucifix. It is quite similar to the previous one. Above the altar in polychrome marble, inside a showcase, there is a crucifix from the fifteenth century.
Third left chapel (Fig. 5): It is dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary. The roof is domed, with the inside of the dome (equipped with a lantern) with trompe l'oeil frescoes depicting ribs and openings towards the sky with vases of colorful flowers inside. Again the walls are decorated with partly stylized depictions of plant and floral elements. On the back wall there is a window with a stained glass window depicting the Annunciation. Above the altar there is a niche with a statue of the Madonna and Child inside.
The chapel is separated from the nave by a polychrome marble balustrade.
First chapel on the right: It is dedicated to Saint Anthony of Padua and it is only simulated. It is in fact a trompe l'oeil fresco painted around a real niche in which there is a statue of the saint. The fresco is characterized by intense pastel colours.
Second chapel on the right: It is dedicated to St. Joseph. The chapel, separated from the nave by a stone balustrade, comprises a rectangular space and a semicircular apse wider than the front space. The latter has a barrel vault with lunettes and the same type of plant-themed decorations present in the left chapels. The apse, almost circular, has the peculiarity of having a domed roof, with the dome which is however smaller than the space on which it is located and which is therefore supported by smooth round columns with Ionic capitals, behind which there is so a sort of circular corridor. Above the polychrome marble altar is a statue of St. Joseph. On the sides are two statues of angels.
Third chapel on the right: It is dedicated to Saint Olympus and consists of a rectangular space separated from the nave by a polychrome marble balustrade and covered by a circular dome. The walls are vertically marked by pilasters with Corinthian capitals that start from a high plinth and are divided horizontally in two by a frame, thus forming rectangular panels with a green marble surface in which there are bas-reliefs of angels, coats of arms and garlands.
The lunettes of the side walls are occupied by frescoes depicting episodes from the life of the saint.
Above the altar there are two columns between which there are two niches. In the lower one there is an urn with the relics of the saint. In the upper one there is instead a statue of him. The lunette of the back wall is entirely occupied by a stained glass window which depicts the consecration of Saint Olympus in heaven. The window is surrounded by a curious white stucco decoration which seems to be composed of flowers and stones mixed with cherub heads.
The presbytery and the choir at the back, slightly raised compared to the nave, form a very deep space. The balustrade that delimits the presbytery, as well as the baroque altar in its centre, both in polychrome marble, are from the second half of the eighteenth century and are works of masters from Vercelli. The four evangelists are depicted on the vault, while a gilded wooden canopy hangs above the altar. The side walls are occupied by large choir galleries, the left of which houses an organ. It should be noted that also the right one seems to house an organ, which however is only painted on the wall.
The lower part of the choir walls is occupied by carved wooden stalls in two rows. On the back wall, in the center of a sumptuous trompe l'oeil retable, is a large canvas from 1767 by Lorenzo Peracino, a painter very active in the Novara area.
Also worth mentioning are the pulpit halfway up the left wall, in carved and partly gilded solid wood and the sacristy, with a vaulted ceiling decorated with stucco frames.
Crypt of San Biagio (highlighted Fig.)
Under the current church there is still the ancient crypt of proto-Romanesque structure of the very first early medieval church built on the site, even older than the one used by the nuns of the monastery. It looks like a small church with three naves. Its vault collapsed during the construction of the present church and is therefore not original. At the beginning of the nineteenth century the lateral naves were then filled in (evidently to better support the weight of the church above it, which was being enlarged in that period). However, these were then freed and made accessible again during the restorations in the 50s-70s of the twentieth century. The presence of remains of windows in the upper part of some walls shows that originally the street level was much lower, so that the crypt was at least partly above it. The naves comprise two spans and are separated by octagonal piers and circular columns. On the vaults and in the apse there are traces of frescoes, but certainly much more recent than the crypt itself.

Categories: Places of historical value of artistic value

Via Recinto Castello, 6, 13035 Lenta VC
Further pictures of Parish Church of San Pietro in the section Photography
Lenta (Vercelli, Italy): Sight with the Parish Church of San Pietro and its bell tower
Lenta (Vercelli, Italy): Chapel of St. Joseph in the Parish Church of San Pietro
Lenta (Vercelli, Italy): Fake Chapel of Saint Anthony of Padua in the Parish Church of San Pietro
Lenta (Vercelli, Italy): Presbytery and choir of the Parish Church of San Pietro
Lenta (Vercelli, Italy): Choir of the Parish Church of San Pietro
Lenta (Vercelli, Italy): Interior of the Parish Church of San Pietro