Welcome to San Gaudenzio's Basilica, cathedral in Novara.
For more than four centuries, this monument has been testament to the civil, artistic and religious life of Novara. In fact, it belongs to all the people of Nouara, as is recorded on a plaque, on the front of the basilica stating "Civitatis Novariae". The citizens wanted to reconstruct the church of their patron saint, after the destruction of the early Christian basilica. It stood outside the city walls, and was destroyed by Charles V Spanish King. Of the old church, there remains only a polyptych of Gaudenzio Ferrari. It is kept in the second chapel on the left. Also, two carvings "St. Paul" and "The Ship", both of which are in tbe cathedral.
The story of its construction, starting with a project by Pellegrino Pellegrini in 1577, lasled for almost three hundred years. Work was started on the presbytery and the transept in the 17th century. At the start of the following century, they finally finished the baroque design of the Scurolo and the high altar. Half a century later, Benedetto Alfieri planned the splendid bell tower, and, a hundred years later still, Alessandro Antonelli built the dome. The entire structure was finished in brick, and crowned with the statue of The Saviour 122 meters from the ground. The last great work, connected with our church is the monumental organ, on the left side of the presbytery. It was made by Vincenzo Mascioni, in 1948, after the basilica reopened for worship: in the 1930s, there was some preoccupation, about the stability of the dome, necessitating the closure of the basilica, to enable consolidation ofthe structure, with reinforced cement. The small organ, that is on the left side of the church, is awaiting restoration. It is the prized work of organ builder Serassi of Bergamo, and was installed in the last century.
At the exrreme right of the transept, in the refined setting of the 18thc. is the Scurolo. It houses the tomb, of silver and crystal, that contains the body of St. Gaudenzio, the first bishop of Novara, patron of the city and the diocese. It is visible through the railings above the altar, but it is only possible to view it during Ihe eight days, in honour of the Saint, between the 22nd. and the 29th of January.
At the extreme left of the transept, opposite the statue of St. Gaudenzio, are the remains of our bishop, St. Adalgisio (8thc.). In a temporary position nearby, is the laminated copper statue of The Saviour. Made in the last century, it was originally on the top of the steeple. Over the years, it had begun to decay, so, a faithful copy was made, in glass resin, and it is now in place, on the top ofthe steeple.
The high altar, was consecrated in 1725, by bishop Giberto Borromeo. Inside the altar, are the remains of St. Antero Papa, who was pope in the 3rd. c. They were brought to Novara, at the time of bishop Bascapè. The altar is rich in bronze bas reliefs, the "Historiette", depicting episodes inspired by the life of St. Gaudenzio, by Carlo Beretta.
On the right of the nave are the chapels of Buona Morte, where were held the services of the Fratemity of Buona Morte, an order founded at the end of the 16th c. by bishop Bascapè; Circoncisione, where there is a large painting by Fiammenghino, depicting St. Carlo Borromeo, in the bottorn right hand corner; Crocifisso, that contains the large wooden cross of Gaudenzio Ferrari, which may have been taken from the old basilica, before it was destroyed.
On the leit are the chapels of Angelo Custode, recently restored; Natività, where is the splendid polyptych of Gaudenzio Ferrari; The Madonna di Loreto with its precious altar of black marble.
Hanging in the nave, is a great flower basket of wrought iron, attached to pulleys. Every year on the saints' day, the 22nd of January, it Is lowered to receive the traditional gift of flowers, also in wrought iron, from the local authority.
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