• Davide Ferraris

The monumental complex of Santa Croce in Bosco Marengo

Aggiornato il: 10 set 2019

The regularity of the plain surrounding Bosco Marengo is interrupted by an imposing structure: this is the Monumental Complex of Santa Croce.

The existence of this structure is entirely due to Michele Ghislieri born in Bosco Marengo in 1504, who became Pope in 1566 with the name of Pius V and canonized in 1712.

Dominican theologian and inquisitor, this Pontiff, the only one of Piedmontese origin, is remembered for the severity with which he applied the decrees of the Council of Trent, for the reform of the clergy and the Church (fight against nepotism, removal of priests considered unworthy, publication of the Roman Catechism) and, in foreign policy, for the defense of Catholicism.

Considered the patron saint of the Maltese islands for his interventions (also economic) in favor of the Knights of Malta who had stopped the advance of the Ottoman sultan Suleiman, he decided, in the second half of the sixteenth century, to have a Dominican convent built in his native town .

The complex is characterized by the presence of two cloisters overlooked by the refectory, the three-nave library and the rooms that were used to house the museum.

Inaugurated in 2011, the museum rooms preserve works of great value and importance among which we can remember not only the large table of the Martyrdom of San Pietro da Verona but also objects, sacred vestments and volumes related to the pontiff's family or originally used in the church and in the convent.

The core of works, perhaps of greater value, is, however, composed of the boards that made up the so-called Vasarian machine, that is, the majestic high altar of the church commissioned by Pius V from Giorgio Vasari.

The project conceived by the famous Tuscan artist foresaw a wooden structure, realized by the Florentine Giovanni Gargioli, on which were then inserted the works executed, between 1567 and 1569, by Vasari and his aids (the paintings were made in Florence and then sent in Bosco Marengo).

In 1710 the Vasari masterpiece was dismantled and replaced by the current altar, while the paintings were relocated to various parts of the complex (in the church is the main panel, signed by Vasari, depicting the Last Judgment).

One last curiosity: the church, like the whole convent, and the works exhibited in the museum are the property of the Fund for Buildings of Worship or FEC (body that refers to the Ministry of the Interior), but are given in concession to the Municipality of Bosco Marengo that manages them in collaboration with the Friends of Santa Croce Association.


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