Here are the pictures and the story of the fountain that Matthew carved for the piazza across the lake at Cannobio. We both agree that it looks somewhat like a Baroque Bidet but it matches the Church perfectly! The story below coincides with that which we heard from the Vescovo of the church who kindly allowed us to approach the altar and view the original painting and invited us for the festival in January. The fountain that Matthew made replaces one from the 18th century that was stolen while it was dismounted for a repaving of the piazza that was done in 2004. A photo of the original fountain is below.
The marble that the ‘new’ fountain was carved from is the pink ‘Candoglio’ which is reserved exclusively for the big cathedral in Milan…but, you know, Italian style, somebody knew somebody who could get a piece donated for this church. Matthew said that it was a pleasure to work with this stone that he would otherwise never have carved. I should have asked him for a scrap of it for the rock garden on the dashboard of my van. It is really lovely to think that he made something that, even if it’s small, should still be there in 100 years, probably more. It certainly makes us feel invested in the community.
The story of the Church of the S.S. Pietà in Cannobio and of it’s miraculous relic is as follows:
The Sanctuary of the Most Holy PietàThe Sanctuary of The Most Holy Pietà, that stands behind the beautiful promenade of Cannobio, was commissioned by San Carlo Borromeo in about 1578 and was built on the site of a pre-existing modest Church.
It was precisely here between the 8th of January and the 27th of February 1522 that a miraculous event took place: in a humble inn, a small painting that depicted the deposition of Christ from the Cross between the Madonna and St. John the Evangelist had “come to life”, blood and tears were coming out of the painting and a fragment of human rib was sticking out from the chest.
Today, the small painting and some blood-soaked clothes belonging to those who witnessed the events, are preserved in a niche in the high altar of the Sanctuary, whereas the Holy Rib is preserved in a reliquary in the Church of San Vittore.
The building has a single nave, with a rectangular apse and an elegant dome, which was the work of the architect Pietro Beretta. The rich internal decorations date back to the 17th and 18th centuries: there are paintings, stucco and polychrome marbles.
The most valuable work is undoubtedly the altarpiece of the high altar. This is an oil on wood, which depicts the Climb to Calvary and was executed around 1540 by the renowned artist Gaudenzio Ferrari. Beneath the presbytery there is a crypt that since 1947 has been the resting place of the deserving Don Silvio Gallotti from Cannobio.
Each year, on the evening of the 8th of January (and in a less evocative manner, also on the Monday of Pentecost), there is a traditional religious ceremony, which brings the “Holy Rib” from the Parish Church of San Vittore to the Sanctuary of the Most Holy Pietà. The holy rib is brought in a procession that is lit up by hundreds of lights placed in the windows of the houses.