Spirituality, mysticism and art come together in the wealth of beautiful churches and cathedrals found everywhere in the Lake Maggiore area.
Many of these buildings have immense cultural and historical value.
- Some not to be missed are the ancient church in the village of Carmine Superiore near Cannobio, high on a cliff looking directly over Lake Maggiore;
- the Walser church in Macugnaga near the seven-hundred year old Lime Tree;
- the beautiful church of Saints Gervasio and Protasio in Domodossola, built on the ruins of an earlier Romanesque Church;
- the parish church of Ghemme in the Novara hills area with its splendid Baroque facade.
Some of the churches are santuari or shrines, places of pilgrimage associated with a miracle,
- The Sanctuary of the Madonna del Boden, situated at 475 m above sea level outside Ornavasso;
- The Church of San Gaudenzio in Baceno has recently been declared a national monument and towers over the Orrido at Silogno;
- The Sanctuary at Re which owes its importance to the affresco of the Madonna that ran with blood in 1494;
- the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Sasso which overlooks Lake Orta:
Mount Mesma, in Ameno, comprises a church and a monastery dedicated to San Francesco. The monks are extremely hospitable and welcome visitors into this corner of th eearth, dedicated to God , far from the frenetic activities of every day life.
The monastery is a rectangle created by two connecting cloisters and encircled by a marble colonnade. One of the most interesting attractions is the ingenious system of canals, built by the friars in the 17th century, to collect and purify rain water.
The entire monastery is a hymn to order and simplicity, laid out with flowers, statues and sundials. One of the more important paintings by Vittorio Lucca depicts the embrace between Saint Francis and Saint Domenico.
Sunday 3 July
Monte Mesma Feast “Ad Altiora”
Follow in the footsteps of the Franciscan Monks when they went begging for alms, finishing up at the Convent of Monte Mesma. Afternoon a band will play.
Sitting above the town of Ornavasso, overlooking the plains of the river Toce, this religious complex commemorates a miraculous appearance of the Virgin Mary.
She appeared to the young shepherdess Maria Della Torre, lost in the woods, and her light guided her safely back home. The sanctuary was built to commemorate this miraculous event, and has been enlarged over the centuries.
Nowadays it comprises 3 naves separated by arches, giving onto the presbytery. The chapels containing the ex voto are of particular interest.
It is possible to reach the complex both by car and on foot, following the “way of the faith”. A fresh water spring offers travellers a drink on reaching the top of the hill.
The Sanctuary of the Madonna del Sasso
The Sanctuary stands on a rocky spur overlooking Lake Orta. The view from the square in front of the Sanctuary is so stunning that it has become known as the” Balcony on Lake Orta”. On a clear day it is possible to see Novara, Vercelli and Milan as well as all the Lakeside villages.
The 18th century religious complex comprises the church, the bell tower and the monastery. The entire structure was extensively restored in the 1990’s.
The layout is in the shape of a greek cross, affrescoed by Lorenzo Peracino. Over the altar there is a painting by Fermo Stella da Caravaggio of Christ being taken down from the Cross.
The sanctuary is a highly spiritual place, thanks to its architecture and its unique location. <<it has been extensively restored in recent times.
The Church of San Gaudenzio of Baceno
The Church of Baceno, positioned at the crossroads of the Valle Formazza with the Devero Alps, is a splendid example of religious architecture.
First built in the 16th Century, the simple original structure has been enlarged and embellished over the centuries. Dedicated to San Guadenzio, the church now comprises a central nave with double aisles and colonnades with a beautiful black speckled marble floor.
There is an imposing high altar and seven side chapels dedicated to various Saints.
The 16th Baptistry is constructed of white marble from Crevoladossola. There is also an important wooden organ built in the 19th century by Carlent and Walpen.
Sanctuary of the Madonna of Sangue del Re
The 51 meter cupola of the Sanctuary towers over the landscape of the Val Vigezzo Valley.
It was built to commemorate the miracle of the Madonna which occurred on 29th April 1494; history relates that a young man, angered by having lost a game of quoits, threw a stone at the image of the Madonna, which subsequently started to bleed. The church became a hugely popular pilgrimage destination.
The Sanctuary, now in the care of the Padri Oblati Diocesani (the Friars of the diocesan lay persons), comprises three main portals decorated with high-reliefs depicting the life of the Virgin Mary and the miraculous event.
There is also an altar framing the affresco dedicated to the miraculous event.
Holy Trinity Monastery at Ghiffa
The Convent of the Holy Trinity in Ghiffa is home to the Benedictine Nuns of the Holy Sacrament. Situated close to the Swiss Border overlooking the Lake Maggiore, it is a place which inspires peace and serenity. The cloistered nuns follow the Benedictine rule of “ora, labora et adora”dedicating their lives to a perpetual cycle of work and prayer in adoration of God.
It is possible to stay in the convent and participate spiritual retreats, days of prayer and meditation, far from the “madding crowd” of modern life.