Gandino - The church of Santa Croce and Sant'Alessandro

Amongst a host of distinctive places, Gandino’s varied town plan features a remarkable number of holy buildings which dot the village’s outline and surround the greatest of these buildings: the Basilica dell’Assunta.
In canonical jargon, these churches are referred to as subsidiaries and were built in different periods between the 15th and early 20th centuries.

The large number of ecclesiastic buildings no doubt testimonies an atavistic faith but also the wish of each quarter, its nobles and moreover the various confraternities which followed in Gandino’s history to belong, in addition to the “mother” church, to a smaller and so to speak, more personalised church which could compete with the others for beauty and wealth.
Thus the churches of San Giuseppe and the Suffragio, amongst the most important ones, came into being, as well as San Pietro and the church of San Carlo and San Mauro, even if the largest and most beautiful of these is undoubtedly the church of Santa Croce and Sant’Alessandro. The church was consecrated by Polidoro Foscari, Bishop of Bergamo in 1446 and is the oldest place of worship in Gandino excluding the Basilica. The large bright façade was recently restored and features a high diastyle porch with arches overlooked by three windows each alternating with four pilasters that begin as angel heads and rise up to reach the cornice which continues along the lateral facade on Via Dante. The internal structure is still from the 1400s even if the church was significantly redecorated in the 1700s with a remarkable decorative unity which fits in perfectly with the main dictates of baroque style.

Following a model that recurs in all subsidiary churches, there is an oratory for usage by the Carmelo confraternity which is based in the church of Santa Croce and Sant’Alessandro.
In addition to the high altar and the side altars dedicated one to Aloysius Gonzaga and another to Saint Nicholas, the church contains a chapel with a magnificent altar in honour of Our Lady of Mount Carmel crafted by the Fantonis from Rovetta in 1735.
The statue of the Madonna surrounded by angels and cherubs, created by Cesare Zonca, is at the centre of the wooden altar. The statues of Saint Simon Stock and Saint Teresa of Ávila, both Carmelite saints, are found in a lateral position, kneeling toward the Virgin.
The altar will not fail to amaze for its bold composition and offers large sections of gold intaglio which are topped by a radiant star placed on the pediment of the crown.

The Carmine chapel, which houses paintings by Francesco Palazzo and Pietro Guadi, was frescoed by Giulio Quaglio, whereas the medallions on the church’s ample nave were entrusted to Bernardo Luca Sanz. The medallions on the choir vault were repainted by Luigi Morgari.
The church’s low decorative register is in keeping with the Venetian church-picture gallery model and is literally covered by large oil canvases alternating with pilasters and stuccoes. The most important paintings are by the Verona native Paolo Zimengoli.

Other decorations and stuccoes are the work of Piedmont artist Morgari and Lugano native Giovan Maria Sciolli.
There is a second room which was restored in 1925 located in a lateral position with regard to the church. It probably dates back to the early 14th century and is known as the “Oratorio dei Disciplini” (Oratory of the Disciplines), as the space was used for worship by the old confraternity in antiquity.

In addition to bestowing the chapel with a particularly sober appearance, the neo-Gothic wall decoration by Gandino painter Michele Frana also reproduces some frescoes which are now kept in the museum.

There is a wooden altar in the centre which houses an interesting 17th century crucifixion with a northern feel. Beside it one can admire a lovely pair of paintings by an unknown artist from the 1700s which the depict Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well and the baptism of Jesus.
The large sacristy is still home to a host of valuable church furnishings ranging from fabrics and embroidery to silver objects and intaglios, making it the richest of all of Gandino’s subsidiary churches.