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San Nazzaro Sesia (Novara): Abbey of Saints Nazario and Celso

Foto Abbey of Saints Nazario and Celso
Foto Abbey of Saints Nazario and Celso
Foto Abbey of Saints Nazario and Celso
Foto Abbey of Saints Nazario and Celso
Foto Abbey of Saints Nazario and Celso
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Places  of historical value  of artistic value around Milan (Italy): Abbey of Saints Nazario and CelsoThe Benedictine Abbey of Saints Nazario and Celso, located in the municipality of San Nazzaro Sesia inside Natural Park Lame del Sesia, and therefore about an hour's drive from Milan, is one of the most significant existing monasteries in Piedmont: it is constituted by a wall with circular corner towers, a high Romanesque bell tower, a church in Lombard Gothic style and an elegant cloister with a fifteenth-century cycle of frescoes dedicated to the stories St. Benedict.

The Abbey is very ancient, having been founded in 1040, in a strategic position both from a commercial point of view and from a military point of view.

During the thirteenth century the abbey was fortified with the digging of trenches and the erection of walls all around, with walkways and round corner towers: in this way it functioned as "ricetto" (ie shelter and fortified warehouse) for the population as case of military incursions. The bell tower itself, tall and massive, was in effect also a watchtower and defensive tower.

After a period of political instability and relative decline, the abbey was made to bloom again starting from 1426 by the new abbot Antonio Barbavara, who held the fate of the abbey until 1466 promoting, together with the modernization of agriculture, major renovations and expansions of the monastic complex. Few architectural structures of the ancient abbey, in addition to the bell tower, remained unchanged: the church (where there is the tomb of Barbavara) and the cloister were completely rebuilt in Lombard Gothic style.

The oldest part of the abbey complex is represented by the Romanesque bell tower, built between 1055 and 1075. Part of the material used was obtained from the recovery of existing dilapidated buildings: the big cornerstones at the base of the tower are likely to come from ancient Roman buildings.

The church, built in the fifteenth century by Abbot Antonio Barbavara, is a remarkable example of Lombard Gothic architecture (reflecting the fact that Novara, from a cultural historical point of view is more related to Lombardy that to Piedmont), with brick walls and the elegant terracotta decorations.
Of the ancient Romanesque building remain the two arcaded wings that seem to interrupt the facade: they are the remains of the narthex, or more exactly the quadrangle with two floors where presumably pilgrims could find a place where to rest.
The interior is fully made of bricks. Simple and elegant, with its clustered pillars, the pointed arches, the vaults and the sobriety of its decoration, it submits to the visitor the evocative atmosphere of the Lombard Gothic.
On one of the side walls there is a fresco depicting San Nazario on a horse (photo 5). On the opposite wall, at the beginning of the presbytery, an other fresco, also in the form of a triptych, dated 1464 and depicting the Madonna and Child Enthroned with musician angels between Saints Sebastian and Agatha.

Very beautiful the cloister, completely surrounded by a portico with cross arches and vaults. Its walls were once completely covered with frescoes depictings scenes from the life of St. Benedict. Unfortunately, the whole lower part of these frescoes are lost. Nevertheless, what's left is still more than enough to make the arcade and the cloister extremely evocative.

The entire complex has recently undergone extensive renovations, which have restored its originary glory.

See also: Comunity of San Nazzaro Sesia - Benedictine Abbey of Saints Nazario and Celso

Categories: Places of historical value of artistic value


Via Barbavara, 5, 28060 San Nazzaro Sesia NO, Italia
Foto aggiuntive della Abbazia dei Santi Nazario e Celso nella sezione Fotografia
San Nazzaro Sesia (Novara): Portico of the cloister of the Abbey of Saints Nazario and Celso
San Nazzaro Sesia (Novara): Frescos on the walls of the portico of the cloister of the Abbey of the Saints of Nazario and Celso
San Nazzaro Sesia (Novara): Ceiling of the church of the Abbey of the Saints Nazario and Celso
San Nazzaro Sesia (Novara): Facade of the church of the Abbey of the Saints Nazario and Celso
San Nazzaro Sesia (Novara): Fresco of Saint Nazario riding in the Abbey of the Saints Nazario and Celso