Casnigo - Sanctuary of Ss.Trinità

The Sanctuary of Ss.Trinità in Casnigo (departure point for the [Crossing of the Peaks](lBQbFEDxsT) is a trove of extraordinary artistic treasures. The inhabitants here proudly remember the epithet “the Bergamo area’s Sistine Chapel” given over the years to the Romanesque-Gothic church.
The reason is immediately clear upon entering the sanctuary from the old small porch dominating the valley when the Last Judgement frescoes by the Baschenis painters appear, adorning the triumphal arch and the presbytery.

The sanctuary was surely frequented in the Medieval period, as confirmed by the remains of a watch tower which can be seen in the retaining wall of the church courtyard’s embankment.
The fresco depicting the Madonna is dated 1491, whereas Pope Paul III approved the local Confraternity of the Ss. Trinità with a papal bull in 1523. For the visit of San Carlo Borromeo in 1575, there were no less than 500 brothers.
The Ss. Trinità in Casnigo houses the magnificent polyptych of the high altar, painted by Giovanni Marinoni between the end of the 1400s and the early 1500s. One also finds the terracotta sculpture dedicated to the Magi, giving origin to a special legend and the original celebration repeated the fifth of January each year.

The date of reference for the centenary celebration is 1612 when the entrance prothyrum was constructed with sandstone columns. Also of particular value is the walnut wooden choir dated the end of the 1600s almost surely the work of Ignazio Hillipront, the artist whose work appears in town in the sacristy of the parish church of San Giovanni Battista.
The Last Judgement is undoubtedly the work of greatest impact, for both size and artistry.
It occupies no less than 30 square metres with hundreds of allegorical figures.
It was recently attributed to Cristoforo Baschenis il Vecchio (the Elder), due to a comparison with a signed work dated 1576 of the same subject found in the church of SS. Trinità in Urgnano.

The large fresco is divided into two sections. The moment of resurrection of the bodies with the weighing of the souls as conducted by Archangel Michael is found in the lower one. The good ones go up, that is to Heaven, where the Holy Trinity, the Virgin and a host of saints await them, while the others head towards Hell, crouching.
There, awaiting them, is a monstrous mouth which swallows them. Bishops and popes appear distinctly amongst the damned: the first of the damned that the monster swallows is a bishop which the consolidated popular tradition has always indicated as the Bishop of Bergamo, immediately followed by the archpriest of Casnigo, persons with whom the Confraternity did not enjoy good relations at that time.
Inside the sanctuary, the frescoes of the presbytery vault and the twelve prophets in its intrados are attributed to Cristoforo Baschenis il Vecchio’s brush.
They were all painted between the end of the 1500s and the early 1600s. The homonymous nephew Cristoforo (the Younger) collaborated with the workshop of Cristoforo il Vecchio (the Elder) (deceased in 1596) and probably participated in painting the frescoes beneath the supervision of his uncle.
Pietro Baschenis, a casualty of the 1630 plague and last representative of the Brembana dynasty, also worked on the Ss. Trinità in Casnigo. The grotesqueries and festoons on the white background of the rib vaults of the small porch can be traced to his hand, as they recall those of the same painter of the building where Bergamo’s Angelo Mai Municipal Library is located.

 

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