Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie

The Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie dominates Gravedona.

The church of Santa Maria delle Grazie was originally an Augustinian convent, built in 1467, on the site of the early Christian oratory of S. Salvatore. With a single hall, with transversal arches to suggest the scan of the space, it has walls divided into compartments and drawn by pointed arch niches, which delimit the chapels. The richness of the church is all in the vast cycle of frescoes that cover it almost entirely. An extraordinary view of the orientations of art between Milan and Como around the second decade of the sixteenth century. The church of Santa Maria delle Grazie rises in an elevated position with respect to the city and this gives it an austere and secluded appearance. Ancient Romanesque church with a clean and minimal architecture full of spirituality.

Architecture

The church has two portals in Musso marble. A lunette on the portal is frescoed with a painting from the 1500s, depicting the Madonna between Sant’Agostino and San Nicola da Tolentino. The busts of prophets, blessed and saints, fresco the arches and facades of the gables. The large and bright interior has a single nave, with transverse arches that form compartments on the sides. The apses are three and the central one has a sail vault. The cloister has been modified at various times, although it has not lost its original appearance. The whole iconographic layout of the Sanctuary glorifies the Augustinian order and devotes much attention to the doctrine of the Incarnation and the Assumption.

The chapels

Each chapel is devoted to a biblical episode or a saint. The Crucifixion is very suggestive, because here Christ, unlike the rest, is not painted, but carved in wood. The work dates back to 1516, executed at the request of the Casati family and their emblem is located above the keystone of the arch. In the presbytery you can admire the fresco of the Madonna Assunta, dated 1496, between the saints Simeon the Just and John the Baptist. None of the paintings present within the structure are signed, but they are all of good Lombard school of late ‘400 and’ 500. Some can be attributed to the painter Sigismondo De Magistris. However, the convent was suppressed by Maria Teresa of Austria. Nevertheless the church remained consecrated.

Of the same period is the convent of the eremitani of S. Agostino, suppressed in 1771. It then passed to private individuals and subsequently abandoned for several decades until it was restored for library use. It is built around a cloister with a portico with pointed arches on small columns, on three sides in stone and one in terracotta. It is frescoed with stories from the life of Jesus and Augustinian saints by Domenico da Lugano. Most of the decorative campaign was carried out between 1509 and the first years of the following decade. We know the dates and the exact identity of the clients, thanks to the writings that appear, here and there, on the frescoes.


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