Church of Sacro Cuore di Gesù and San Giovanni Battista
The demographic development of the Sebino villages during the course of the final decades of the 19th Century, necessitated the rebuilding of many parish churches, including that of Predore. The old parish church was abandoned and, in time, became the Civic Auditorium, while the new construction began on June 6, 1909. The project was assigned to the architect from Bergamo Giovanni Barboglio who, at that time, was distinguishing himself as a designer of sacred buildings in Bergamo and in the province, but also as a designer of villas and industrial plants for the Lombard bourgeoisie, in a historicist style whose shapes and materials took into account the local architectural traditions. The parish church of Predore is one of his first examples of sacred architecture.
The constant meddling of the parish priest of the time, Leopoldo Gentili, caused considerable tension with the well-known architect; a compromise was reached with the addition of a soaring dome, initially not foreseen by Barboglio, on the large single nave. The three large bays on the sides, open onto just as many chapels, unified by a series of vaults and arches that stylishly decorate the interior space. The result takes on the lines of a sober late-baroque style, inspired by the architecture of Giorgio Massari, active in the Veneto province in the mid-18th Century. The façade was designed by Luigi Angelini with overlapping orders, a light classical porch and mouldings in Sarnico stone; to remain faithful to the local tradition, the architect was inspired by the prospect of the nearby parish church of Sarnico. The construction work on the building was completed in 1914, while several years passed before the final plastering was completed. The statues in the four external niches are the work of Alessandro Ghislandi, specialising in the creation of historicist style reinforced concrete statues, experimenting with new materials also in the more traditional sculptures. The construction of the sacristy and the bell tower dates back a few years later (1921).
The interior decorations were appointed to the brothers Domenico and Giovanni Zappettini of Bergamo, owners of a flourishing workshop, very famous for the decoration of religious buildings, portraits and commemorative paintings, and carried out in a realistic style, also using modern photographic techniques to support the painting works. The dome was painted by the artist from Brescia Amleto Bocchi, the leader of the “traditionalist” group of Lombard painters, united by the desire to be inspired by “the tradition of fine art, without resorting to imitation”.
Angelini was also the creator of the magnificent Neo-Baroque altar, executed at the Ramuzzi workshop with the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the urns with the relics of the saints Alexander, Innocent and Narno.
The three paintings of the choir dated 1900, the work of Giuseppe Riva with Stories of the Baptist and a large central Crucifixion were brought from the old parish church.
For the paintings of the side altars, a number of former scholars of the Accademia Carrara in Bergamo were appointed: among them Gian Battista Paganessi, Francesco Morzenti, Vittorio Manini assisted by his son Agostino. Dating back to 1917 is the magnificent Via Crucis by the Piedmont artist Luigi Morgari, a specialist in this subject, the author of frescoes in several churches in northern Italy, including Milan, Monza, Turin and Genoa and also in the Parish Church of Sarnico; his inspiration by 17th Century Bolognese classicism and Venetian baroque emerges in the striking bright colour.
The only ancient painting from the old parish church is St. Anthony of Padua, painted by an anonymous Lombard artist of the 17th Century and set within a large carved and gilded wooden frame. The dual titration of this place of worship dates back to May 20, 1916, when Bishop Luigi Maria Marelli dedicated it to St. John the Baptist – like the old parish church – and the Sacred Heart of Jesus.