2019 #Piemonte | Santuario di Boca
Updated: Jan 8
It's always happen while you extensively #travel, when you permanently open your mind to all interesting things coming to you in the most unexpected way. Once you have experience in managing that well, then you're always sure it definitely worth doing.
That was exactly one of those unexpected and unplanned visits to an amazing local place, about which I had no idea. I've found about it from my landlady in Gattinara, when during a breakfast we were just chatting about my plans for one-day trip to Lago Maggiore. She said, that if I still have some spare time on my way to Lago I could take a look at one very good winery in Novara and also she suggested to see Santuario di Boca, which is located just in the same village with that winery. As it was relaxing Sunday and a road supposed to take less than half an hour driving on my way to the lake, the idea sounded brilliant to me and I've gladly took the advice to discover something new and head up through Boca that morning.
Santuario del Santissimo Crocifisso is a grand catholic basilica located in the commune of Boca, in Novara province of Piemonte region. The building itself is so enormous in size that once you arrive onto the parking slot you immediately start feeling yourself like a lilliputian in a giant world.
There is a quite dramatic history of the place started from the chapel Capella delle Anime Purganti, which is by the way still alive, where pilgrims and local people came to pray in 18th century. More and more people were coming from abroad, so it became naturally necessary that the chapel should be better protected from the weather and that a small church would stand next to it.
The desire of devotees becomes reality around 1770 when the priest Gian Domenico Magistrini, a native of Maggiora, was entrusted with the task of preparing the project for the new wall and the church. Construction work began on 16th August 1768 with the blessing of the first stone.
The inauguration took place in May 1773 with an amazing contest of pilgrims. The life of the Sanctuary took place serenely with an increasing pilgrimages even from distant countries, made on foot, praying and singing. It became necessary to give a mass in the holidays and the convenience of confessing for #pilgrims. In 1819 the bishop of Novara Morozzo on a pastoral visit launched an idea of uniting the little chapel to the church, with a semicircular portico.
Later on a young man of just 22 years old, a native of Ghemme and resident of Maggiora, a student of engineering and architecture in Turin, with a lively intelligence and strong wish to make a name for himself in the history of art, Alessandro Antonelli, turned the page of history of Sanctuary.
Antonelli proposed a majestic Sanctuary, a bell tower 119 meters high, a basilica 45 meters long and 24 wide with three naves, a pronaos with three columns and side buildings for pilgrims.
The work begun in 1822 however did not proceed quickly due to many reasons: cold, frost, lack of materials, lack of water. From 1831 to 1835 the new part, the so-called Rotonda, rose in a circular form, where Antonelli intended to carry, over the altar, the sacred image of the chapel.
In 1848 the columns reached the capitals. In 1895 the essential structure was completed and it was greatly celebrated.
The night between 15th and 16th August 1907 a storm of unprecedented violence broke out in the area of the Sanctuary. Lightning splits one of the keystones and causes serious injury to the column to the right towards the street. Within several days they were keeping an eye on it while continuing construction works, but the injury was so serious that on 30th August the Sanctuary has collapsed!
The reconstruction works began in July 1914, in September 1915 the roof was fixed, in March 1916 the church was prepared for the sacred functions. The most necessary works were performed for the May 1918 festivities.
The titanic dream of a young architect came true.
I love the building and area around, it's truly amazing of course like an architectural object and also it's so peaceful and quiet place, especially when you come in the morning when there are almost no people... that's exactly how I was lucky to see it.
Since 1987 the Sanctuary has been included in the Natural Park of Monte Fenera.
This is how the chapel looks these days.
The Sanctuary of Boca is a lovely place, which truly carries out its mission of peace, serenity for the good of all those who go there to find comfort.
Just found a well made drone video about Santuario, which perfectly shows how beautiful and impressive it is. Enjoy.