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Caravaggio (Bergamo): Sanctuary of Caravaggio

Foto Sanctuary of Caravaggio
Foto Sanctuary of Caravaggio
Foto Sanctuary of Caravaggio
Foto Sanctuary of Caravaggio
Foto Sanctuary of Caravaggio
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Places  of historical value  of artistic value around Milan (Italy): Sanctuary of CaravaggioThe full name of the sanctuary is Sanctuary of Maria of the Spring in Caravaggio.
It stands on the site where. according to tradition, Maria appeared, May 26, 1432, in front of the young peasant Giannetta de' Vacchi. As a sign of the A
apparition a spring of water gushed from the lawn, a water which later brought benefits to many people in the course of time.

In 1432, the same year of the apparition, the foundation stone for the erection of a chapel was laid. Next to it also a small hospital was built, to accommodate the many sick people who went there.

The erection of the temple as it can be seen now, however, started only in 1575, on the initiative by the then Archbishop Carlo Borromeo.

The complex of the sanctuary consists of a large church more than 90 meters long and almost two kilometers of arcades that surround it almost completely. Curiously the fence of porches, finished only in 1756 and that reminds itself a Latin cross, is arranged at right angles to the church (which also has a Latin cross structure).

The longest branch of the porch is on the north side of the church. Almost at its peak there is an obelisk, in memory of one of the major miracles that happened on the site, and a 50m long fountain. The water of this fountain flows beneath the church, collects that of the sacred spring and ends in a tank on the other side, dedicated to the wetting of the faithfuls.

The church is externally very sober and linear, with much of the brick structures in sight. The latin cross planimetry is masked by the presence of large porches around the entire back.
Outside there is almost no kind of decoration. Very striking, however, is the large dome, which reaches a height of 64m. It was built in the late seventeenth century, designed by Giovan Battista Quadrio, architect of the Factory of the Duomo of Milan. It was, however, covered with copper only in 1722.

As said, the church has a plan of a Latin cross. A peculiarity is represented by the fact that the short vertical branch of the cross is only slightly shorter than the long one.
The long branch of the cross has four chapels on each side. Another peculiarity of the church consists of the altar position, at the intersections of the branches of the cross.
The nave is unique in all the branches, in all branches covered by a barrel vault.

Picture Sanctuary of Caravaggio
Picture Sanctuary of Caravaggio
Picture Sanctuary of Caravaggio
Picture Sanctuary of Caravaggio
Picture Sanctuary of Caravaggio

The main element of the church, monumental, built of marble and richly decorated, is the complex of the main altar. It is located above the shrine and under the dome, inside a aedicule supported by circular marble columns among which there are four statues corresponding to the virtues of faith, hope, charity and humility. Above the aedicule a glory of angels bearing a crown of stars.
The original design of the altar is by the architect Filippo Juvarra, who was inspired by Michelangelo's studies for the altar of the confession of the Vatican basilica; the complex was built between 1735 and 1750 by the Milanese engineer Carlo Giuseppe Merlo, with the collaboration of the sculptors Nava and Mellone.

Below the altar complex, in the exact place of the apparition, there is a showcase which contains a sculptural representation of the apparition (Photo 4).
Further below a gallery which is accessed from the outside of the sanctuary and which contains the fountain from which the water of the sacred spring flow, as well as various objects related to the most important miracles linked to it and an ancient statue of the Madonna reminding the apparition.

Initially only the chapels and the altar complex were decorated. The vaults and the walls were basically gray. The first inner surfaces of the body of the church to be decorated were the pendentives of the dome, on which Giovanni Moriggia painted four episodes of the Old Testament that see four women as protagonists, allegories of the four cardinal virtues (prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance).
Subsequently, always Moriggia, also decorated the interior of the dome, with a glory of Mary.
Finally he also decorated the vaults and the inner side of the facade of the transects (Expulsion of Adam and Eve in the left arm and in The presentation to the Temple and the Finding of Jesus in the right arm).
Then came the turn of the lunettes of the inner side of the front and backside facades, for which, as themes, Moriggia chose the Marriage of the Virgin, the Annunciation, the Visitation to St. Elizabeth and the Birth of Jesus, completed in 1861.

The vaults were instead decorated by Luigi Cavenaghi between 1891 and 1903. The artist distributed a large number of angels, cherubs, depictions of prophets and doctors of the church on the large areas available, sorting them into boxes and being so able to create an harmonious and pleasant complex, both internally and with respect to pre-existing paintings of Giovanni Moriggia.

The sacristy (Photo 7-10) deserves a separate paragraph. It was built between the middle of '600 and the early years of the' 700 and was recently restored. Basically, it appears to be divided into two levels. The bottom one is occupied by large carved wooden wardrobes. The upper one is instead completely decorated with stuccos interspersed with frescoes of 1698 by Camillo Procaccini. Very impressive, in particular, the fresco at the center of the ceiling, depicting an Assumption of the Virgin (Photo 8).
The wardrobes contained the rich treasure of the sanctuary, whose objects of greater value were unfortunately requisitioned by the Austrians and the French at the time of the Napoleonic wars.
Note in the sacristy, finally, two paintings of great value: a deposition by Bergognone and an other by Legnanino (the latter is located above the altar at the bottom of the room, Photo 9).


Other pictures of the the Sanctuary of Caravaggio in the section Photography of this web site

Categories: Places of historical value of artistic value


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Foto aggiuntive della Santuario di Caravaggio nella sezione Fotografia
Caravaggio (Bergamo): Fresco on the ceiling of the sacristy of the Sanctuary of Caravaggio
Caravaggio (Bergamo): Ceiling above the altar of the Sanctuary of Caravaggio
Caravaggio (Bergamo): Decorated wall of the sacristy of the Sanctuary of Caravaggio
Caravaggio (Bergamo): Interior of the church of the Sanctuary of Caravaggio
Caravaggio (Bergamo): Main altar of the church of the Sanctuary of Caravaggio
Caravaggio (Bergamo): Ceiling of the sacristy of the Sanctuary of Caravaggio
Caravaggio (Bergamo): Altar and nave of the Sanctuary of Caravaggio
Caravaggio (Bergamo): Altar and dome of the Sanctuary of Caravaggio
Caravaggio (Bergamo): Aedicule above the main altar of the Sanctuary of Caravaggio
Caravaggio (Bergamo): Upper half of the sacristy of the Sanctuary of Caravaggio
Caravaggio (Bergamo): Aedicule above the main altar of the Sanctuary of Caravaggio seen from behind