Sanctuary of the Madonna of the Flower Bud
This beautiful church rises above a spacious panoramic terrace that overlooks the lake and the Orta cape. It definitely deserves a visit for its beauty and the richness of its internal decorations, frescoes, stuccos, and rare marble, all in the Neoclassical style. The sanctuary is dedicated to the Virgin, who appeared to Giulia Manfredi on March 28, 1543. The Virgin came to Giulia, a young mute shepherdess, between the branches of a plum tree (‘bòzzolo’ in the local dialect) while the girl prayed at frescoed Marian aedicule.
The miraculous fresco was then brought to the altar we see today. The church’s central plan is very unusual and unique in this region, and dates back to the second half of the eighteenth century, while the grandiose series of frescoes were created by Agostino Comerio (1784 - 1834) from Lombard between 1820 and 1824. Their subjects include various stories from the Bible, especially those related to its main female characters.
Every wall and vault in this church is covered with perfectly preserved frescoes, a true masterpiece of the Neoclassical age, unique in the entire Novara region. The loud, vibrant colors and figures characterized by a rich and eloquent gestural expressiveness are typical of their painter. The main scenes include: “The general Jephthah meets his daughter”, opposite the façade, while on the vault hangs a beautiful “Jacob’s Dream”, which already includes hints of the Romantic era. On the right wall of the nave hangs “The Israeli women celebrating the traverse across the Red Sea” and on the left wall “Judith shows the people of Israel the head of Holofernes”, which is a subject well-loved and often depicted in the history of painting.
Within the presbytery, the Biblical episodes of “Abigail placates David’s rage” and “Meeting of Tobia and Sarah” (to the right), “Moses obtains water from the rock” and “Daniel condemns the accusers of the chaste Susanna to death” (to the left), and “The angel appearing to Manua during the Holocaust” on the wall behind the altar. The miracle that happened to Giulia Manfredi while she prayed is depicted at the capital above this last painting.
The white marble altar created by Carrara (1825) and the balustrade (1830) that circumscribes it are two true masterpieces from the Neoclassical age, designed by the young architect Giulio Aluisetti from Intra, who decided to place the sixteenth century Marian fresco within a snow-white marble cornice, almost like a frame. The two statues to the side depict the Power and the Clemency and are works of Luigi Marchesi, brother of the more famous sculptor Pompeo and creator of many of the sculptures displayed in Milan’s Duomo (Dome).
Inside the chapel to the right, the faithful may pray in front of the relic of the sacred Bòcciolo (Flower Bud); that is, in front of the five fragments of the famous plum tree we have pieced together, recovered in the early nineteenth century inside the old altar that Saint Anthony the Great brought to the parish church. Outside, the façade hosts a majestic portico (mid-nineteenth century) supported by four large granite columns from Baveno, added by the architect Molli from Borgomanero. On the trabeation you can read the psalm “Gloriosa dicta sunt de te”, dedicated to the Virgin, but originally addressing the city of Jerusalem.
The façade has undergone the addition of various embellishments from 1820 on, a consequence of a rapid change in popular taste. The bell tower was constructed in 1922 by the architect Carlo Nigra; a decade later, in the holy year 1933, various decorative elements were added. Inside, a large glass chandelier made in Murano is still visible.
Open during functions and during some other periods of the year.