Church of San Gaudenzio in Esmate

The parish church of Esmate, dedicated to St. Gaudentius Bishop of Novara, has ancient origins. It is attested in sources since at least 1360, when it depended on the ecclesiastical circumscription of Solto Collina. The current building is a 17th Century reconstruction. Consecrated on January 22, 1688, it was extensively renovated in 1839.

It stands as a simple structure, with a façade on two levels, the first interspersed of four pillar strips finishing in a large triangular gable; the centre opens into a portal in Sarnico sandstone with a broken gable.

The interior has a single nave with three bays. The wall decorations were carried out in 1859 and were widely renovated in 1935 by brothers Angelo and Mario Zappettini with illusionistic mural paintings, Eucharistic symbols and instruments of the Passion. There are four medallions on the vault: on the inner façade the Guardian Angel, the Passing of St. Joseph, the Martyrdom of St. Agnes, and finally St. Gaudentius.

The centre of the nave opens out into two side chapels. To the right is the altar of Saints Charles and Philip Neri, in which the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament had its seat. Built in the 17th Century, it has a frontal with a Eucharistic symbol; the plaster frame with Solomonic columns of black marble and gilding hosts the altarpiece with Saints Charles Borromeo and Philip Neri in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and is attributed to the artist Giacomo Ferabosco from the Como area. Above it is an almond with the figure of the Blessing Christ is framed between two Angels with scrolls.

In front of this is the Chapel of the Rosary, once the seat of the confraternity bearing the same name, which boasts a majestic 18th Century altar. The black marble frontal, inlaid with floral motifs, has a polylobed medallion with Our Lady of the Rosary in the centre, framed on either side by two cherubs. The large gilded plaster frame continues and updates the model of the front altar; two Telamons support Solomonic columns painted in imitation red marble; the mixtilinear gable is animated by Angels holding garlands; the Mysteries of the Rosary the work of artists from the Bergamo area is also dated to the 18th Century, while the statue of Our Lady is dated to the 19th Century, replacing the painting now hung on the wall.

The painting of Our Lady of the Rosary with St. Dominic and St. Catherine, is attributable to artists from the Brescia area dated to ​the 17th Century. Alongside this stands the wooden pulpit, supported by an 18th Century telamon while the body of the pulpit and the staircase were rebuilt in the 20th Century. Opposite is the organ, originally an instrument made by the renowned Serassi firm, dated to 1807.

The high altar was built in 1774 by the Fantoni workshop from Rovetta: it features a set of steps and frontal in black marble with polychrome inlays and two statuettes on the side of St. Gaudentius and St. John the Baptist and ends in a large tribune with statuettes of Angels and the figure of the Risen Christ on the top. At the centre of the apse wall, inside a valuable gilded wooden frame, is the altarpiece of the Our Lady of Assumption between Saints Gaudentius and John the Baptist, by the artist Francesco Paglia from Brescia, dating to the late 17th Century, characterised by a bold chiaroscuro colour palette, brightened by light areas on the drapery. At the foot of the two saints it is possible to see a lake landscape with the church of Esmate as it looked like at that time. The wooden choir stall is slightly later on with inlays dating to the 18th Century. In 1958 four paintings by Angelo Bonfanti were placed on the sides of the altarpiece, depicting from left to right, the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, the Sacrifice of Isaac, the Offer of Melchizedek and the Last Supper.



Francesco Nezosi



For more information:

BELLINI B., La collina di Solto, Cisano Bergamasco (Bg) 1961, pp. 121-128, 139-141, 152.

PAGNONI L., Chiese parrocchiali bergamasche. Appunti di Storia e Arte, Bergamo 1979, p. 177-178.


Cover photo credits: Linoolmostudio


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