The church of Santi Pietro e Paolo (St. Peter and Paul), in Curetto district, was managed since its foundation by the local Confraternity of Penitents as documented in the Act of Settlement drawn up in July 1521 in the Curia of Brescia; the building is registered as “recently opened chapel at the outskirts of the Sale shore area”. Later on, during the apostolic visit in 1580, Cardinal Charles Borromeo ordered the upgrading of some portions of the building and the merging of the Confraternity’s Schola and St. Roch in a single congregation called Confraternity of Saints Roch, Peter and Paul. The altarpiece of 1582 (now in the Church of Conche) depicting Madonna and Child with Saints Sebastian, Peter, Paul and Roch seals the merge of the two confraternities. The painting has been compared to the works of the artist from Brescia, Girolamo Rossi. The altarpiece was positioned into the high altar (now moved to the church of Marasino) covering the fresco depicting the Flagellation of Christ at the centre of the apse: the mural, which is currently visible, dates back to the third and fourth decade of the 16th Century and refers to the circle of Paolo da Caylina il Giovane.
The main façade, facing the lake, is currently close to the road making it impossible to visit; it features a simple layout with a gabled roof, a gable, and an entrance portal in Sarnico stone with two side small windows. The image of St. Charles Borromeo is preserved in poor conditions in the lunette of the portal. The bell tower and the entrance currently in use are located on the north façade; the original trilobed arch pattern of the window can be seen from the exterior, on this façade.
The building is a single nave church with an apse sanctuary, barrel vault, large windows and a matroneum (women’s gallery) in the inside façade, supported by granite columns, accessed from the internal steps. Penitents used to gather in the women’s gallery, which was also mentioned in the pastoral visit reports: the grate above the parapet and wood ceiling painted with faux baroque architectures are still preserved today. A large oeil-de-boeuf overlooking the lake allows the entrance of natural light.
In 1797, the Confraternity of Penitents was closed down, the church was taken over by the State and sold to a private buyer with the annexed house. In 1855, the Town Council bought the complex to use it as hospital until they managed to find a place to treat people affected by the outbreak of cholera; during the same year, Engineer Giacomo Cozzoli carried out structural upgrading works. Today the church is owned by the Town Council and used as auditorium.
Many works from numerous restorations are still preserved, though they are not coeval. The plaster decorations in the vault and under the women’s gallery frame the frescoes by Domenico Voltolini dating back to between the second and third decade of the 18th Century (Noli me tangere, Hope, Faith, St. Gregory, St. Peter in prison visited by the angel, The fall of Saul from a horse, St. Lawrence, The Visitation of Virgin Mary to Elizabeth, St. Roch blessing the plague victims). The tables of the masonry side altars are also preserved; one of the two lost altarpieces can perhaps be seen in the painting with St. Francis receiving the stigmata (now in the sacristy of the parish church of Sale) by a painter from Brescia belonging to the circle of Pietro Marone, dating back between the 16th and 17th Century.
In 1856 Antonio Guadagnini, commissioned by the civil council of Sale, frescoed the sanctuary archivolt depicting the Annunciation while in the apsidal conch, he painted the votive offering for cholera, depicting the Intercession of the Saints to the Holy Trinity. This is one of the best works by the artist from Esine. Christ is at the centre of the composition while receiving the prayers of the Virgin Mary and patron Saints of the Confraternity of penitents; an angel lays the scourge at his feet, sign that the divine wrath and thus the cholera have ceased and Peace and Justice can return to the village, depicted on the left side while kissing.
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