The Baptismal Church of Sant’Andrea


History relates that the Bishop of Brescia Vigilio (Vigilius) founded the church of Sant’Andrea (St. Andrew) between the late 5th and early 6th centuries on an area which had already been built on in Roman times. The burial of the holy bishop, documented from the 16th Century in the crypt, seems to confirm the ancient origin of the church, which became the baptismal church in the 8th – 9th Centuries and underwent many renovation works.

The most significant element of the current architectural structure is the bell tower which, in the 12th Century was inserted at the centre of the façade of a preexisting church: this must have been built on a three nave layout and one can see the façade masonry in small-sized blocks simply rough-hewn using a typical 11th Century technique. The bell tower accommodates a small coeval oratory with cells enhanced by mullioned windows and niches, probably used during special processions celebrating the liturgical calendar. Between the 13th and 17th Centuries, the tower was raised in height and included a brick pinnacle, some openings were walled up and the Baroque portal was added.

To the right of the bell tower, in the 19th Century, the 14th Century arch-shaped tomb of Giacomo Oldofredi, who died in 1325 and was a leading figure in the history of Iseo, was moved here from the ancient cemetery. It consists of a pointed arch resting on twin columns that houses the sarcophagus, and is located on an niche-shaped open base with a round terracotta arch and built of different materials, from different monuments.

The interior of the church, with three naves covered by a barrel vault resting on Corinthian columns, is the result of the neoclassical renovation performed by the architect Rodolfo Vantini from Brescia who extended the building between 1826 and 1840, demolishing the ancient eastern termination. The work was completed in 1835-1836 with the decoration of the sanctuary area by Giuseppe Teosa (Ascension of Jesus in the apsidal conch and Pentecost in the transept dome), Francesco Inganni (The Crucifixion of Saint Andrew and Preaching of Saint Andrew at the head of the naves) and the works performed by Tommaso Castellini and Giacomo Soldi.

The San Vigilio (Saint Vigilius) chapel is also part of the 19th Century works, designed by Vantini, with the statue of Giacomo Sozzi and frescoes by Giuseppe Teosa, and the commission to the two maestros on the Lombard art scene of the paintings for the chapels at the end of the side naves: hence the arrival in Iseo of the extraordinary Archangel Michael by Francesco Hayez in the left nave (1839), and the composed classic Repentance of St. Peter in the front chapel to the right, by Giuseppe Diotti.

Further works at the beginning of the 20th Century were performed by Ponziano Loverini and Francesco Domenighini (Last Supper in the apse, 1913) and Vittorio Trainini, author of the stained-glass cartoons (preparatory drawings) (1924).

The chapels and the church walls also feature paintings and sculptures completed over the centuries to renew the interiors of the baptismal church, and works from the former church of St. Francis.

In a combined intervention late in the 16th Century for St. Andrew, involving the maestros of the Brescia art scene of the time, we can find The lamentation over the Dead Christ and the Saints Vigilius, Andrew, Lawrence by Antonio Gandino in the nave heads and Jesus in the Olive Groves (1575) by Pietro Rosa on the inside façade, the Martyrdom of St. Stephen (1591) by Grazio Cossali, above the confessionals.

The 18th Century renovation involved the work of – in the right nave – the altars of the Rosary, built by Giacomo Bombastone in collaboration with Antonio Callegari, and Saint Aloysius Gonzaga by the Carra workshop.

Some of the paintings came from St. Francis with St. Bernard of Siena presenting the Eternal Father the people of Iseo (1600) by Grazio Cossali and the Saints Francis, Charles, John the Evangelist and Mark the Evangelist (1617) the work of brother Giovan Francesco Benigni from Pralboino, a student of Francesco Giugno, in the left nave.

Finally, the subject of secular veneration is the 14th Century fresco of the Madonna and Child “Salus populi iseani”, along the right nave.

Angelo Valsecchi

 

Iniziativa realizzata nell’ambito del bando Wonderfood & Wine di Regione Lombardia e Unioncamere Lombardia per la promozione di Sapore inLOMBARDIA

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