Parish church in Baroque style.
It was built from 1770 to 1791 on the ruins of the ancient castle.
• The origins of the church
The town of Aramengo appears to the visitor gently lying on the crest of a natural amphitheater, dominated by the majestic figure of the Parish Church of S. Antonio Abate.
The building rests on a high parvis that enhances its monumentally and the hill behind, with its rugged and green shapes, make it the ideal background.
Its late baroque shapes, sweet and disturbing at the same time, make it a unique monument of its kind, fruit of the genius of the architect Gioanni Maria Molino of Asti, who realized the project in 1769.
In fact, the Community wished, as early as 1730, to acquire a new Parish Church, but the company immediately presented itself as very complex, to the difficulties for obtaining the authorizations, on the part of the Curia and the Real Senate, certainly sustainable by the Population, and so for twenty years this dream remained in the drawer!
The project resumed a decisive impulse with the arrival in Aramengo of the new parish priest, Don Guglielmo Sarboraria di Cocconato, who was able to devise a “Plan” to obtain the coverage of expenses, planning them in twelve years, which was the estimated time for the completion of the Church.
All the “Heads of House” undertook to work for free on the construction site for 5 workdays per year, guaranteeing the transport of all materials, while the women were busy filing at least half a "rubbo" of hemp per year for the benefit of Church.
The final result rewarded the audacity and perseverance of the Population which, after thirteen years, on 8 December 1804 saw the first mass celebrated and the Archbishop Giacinto della Torre, two hundred years ago, consecrated it. It was 18 June 1809!
Today, after a long time, the Church still appears in all its splendor, its harmonious and elegant external forms merge with the interior where, crossed the portal, the visitor is kidnapped by a rich and refined environment, where nothing lacks and nothing too much, an admirable balance of shapes and colors where the lively paintings, the precious marbles and the rich furnishings are immersed in a warm atmosphere, rendered golden by the opalescent light that filters through the large windows.
• Description of the monument
The building, entirely made of exposed brick, rests on a high parvis that enhances the monumentality and the hill behind, with its rugged and green shapes, it is the most suitable natural scenery.
Immediately affects the three-dimensional scenography of the whole, nothing is left to chance, even the defiled and less visible parts, denote a design care is not indifferent.
The façade is vertically divided into three sectors, delimited by elaborate cornices and bricks of stone slabs, and is enriched with statues and torches in terracotta.
At the top is finished by an elegant triangular pediment, surmounted by the cross. The median sector houses in the center a refined oval opening crowned by a rich frame, while pilasters and angular pilasters delimit the rest of the surface. On the sides two elegant buttresses act as a connection with the lower sector, wider and set around the central opening.
The large portal, which preserves the original fixtures, opens onto a beautiful elliptical staircase, and is enriched by a round crease and a series of more external frames, which are inserted in the upper part in the rich tympanum.
The central part of the façade is delimited laterally by pilasters and columns, terminated with Ionic-inspired capitals, while the side parts, recessed with respect to the central one, create a pleasant modulation of the whole, lightened also by the presence of two elegant windows.
Sides are structurally similar, except for the presence of the bell tower and the body of the sacristy, leaning against the western one. The walls appear to be pleasantly enlivened by four protruding bodies, hosting as many chapels inside the church, while the upper part, notably reentered, has three large slightly arched windows. Two doors, one on each side, form the secondary entrances, while the west one has been walled up for many years, but preserves the rich decoration unchanged.
The high bell tower with a square section, was built in two different moments and completed in 1826. Its development is marked by six stringers, the last, more pronounced, delimits the terminal and the belfry, enriched in the façade by pronounced pilasters multiple angles and four large arches that allow the view of the bells. An elaborate composite cornice in stone and bricks delimits the top of the tower, crowned by an elegant balcony and a refined metal roof.
Entering the church from the main door, the visitor fully enjoys the warm hospitality that reserves this sacred building: paintings, marbles and furnishings, cleverly created over time, not to amaze, but to accompany the human soul to meditation and prayer.
The interior, spacious and refined, has a single central hall, finished by the semi-elliptical apse area that houses the presbytery, while on the sides there are four chapels, two on each side.
The monumental elevation shows a barrel vault, with four lunettes near the windows, supported by powerful pillars with pilasters and capitals in gilded stucco.
Environment is dominated by the valuable bulk of the high altar, rich in ancient marbles coming from the destroyed Certosa di Valmanera in Asti. At the top of the apsidal basin presents “The Coronation of the Virgin Mary” and in the segments between the windows, the four Evangelists are represented.
Important pictorial program that covers the whole building is the work of Giacomo and Enrico Canova, who worked between 1886 and 1888.
Picture gallery includes important works of good quality, some coming from the old parish church on the hill: on the main altar is the precious canvas, attributed to Charles Dauphin, “Le Tentazioni di S. Antonio Abate”, ascribable to the second half of 1600.
On the altars of the side chapels are visible other works from the ancient church, including a “Crucifixion” and a “Saint Sebastian” Other works of lesser value represent “The Holy Virgin of the Rosary” and “S. Giuseppe dying”.
The choir, behind the high altar, was built in 1854 on the design of the then parish priest Don Domenico Ramello. The whole, sober and elegant, consists of a continuous row of stalls leaning against the curved wall of the apse, interrupted by pilasters with elaborate capitals and connected to the sumptuous cornice on which wooden sculptures representing vases with torches rest.
At the center, above the elegant seat with armrests, the frame is interrupted by a lunette that houses the sculpture of two angelic faces. A second row of seats, with low backrests, is positioned further forward and supports a counter-top cabinet that supports the anti-perfusion door. At the top are hanging two ancient paintings depicting, on the left: “The Holy Virgin of the Rosary with Saint Dominic and Saint Catherine”, on the right: “Saint Michael and the Guardian Angel”.
In the left transept leading to the Sacristy, there is a valuable Crucifix in polychrome wood, attributable to the sixteenth century.
The Sacristy occupies a vast room lit by two windows, with the vault decorated by Canova himself in 1888. The particular austerity that characterizes the environment is conferred by the large cupboards and “boiserie” in dark walnut, which completely cover the walls. This furniture, a valuable work of intaglio of the mid-eighteenth century, was purchased used around 1835, by the friars of S. Agostino di Crescentino and then appropriately modified to be inserted in this environment evidently smaller.
The Baptistery is obtained in the thickness of the wall of the façade and is pleasantly enclosed in a sacellum, protected by an iron gate and illuminated by a window of the façade itself. The Baptismal Font, with its copper basin, is placed on the table of a small altar with tabernacle and decorations, fake marble, in polychrome stucco. At the top a frame always in stucco encloses the representation of the “Baptism of Jesus” on the banks of the Jordan, signed by Enrico Canova.
There is little information about the Pulpito and the name of the sculptor who created the beautiful tortette columns and the elaborate capitals is unknown. The Canova in 1888 restored it, restoring its decoration and gilding, while the crucifix was placed in 1862.
Before concluding the visit of the monument, the visitor, looking up, will be able to admire the last jewel: the precious Organ, purchased in 1865, used with the splendid ancient chest, by the Collino di Torino company.
Source: Text taken from the work "ARAMENGO NELLA STORIA" of Beppe Moiso - Aramengo, 2012
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