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Church of St.Martin

 Chiesa di San Martino


Pozzi's Presbytey



The Pozzi





Like all the churches in Valsolda, even the church of Castello, situated at the western approach to the hamlet, underwent a complete change in the XVI century plus an inversion of orientation so as to create more space in front of the church and facilitate the entrance of processions, very frequent in those days. The churchyard in front of the old entrance was moved beyond the hamlet on the way  to Puria.
The dedication to Saint Martin goes back to the dominion of the Franks (IX century) who were devoted to this Saint, bishop of Tours, while it is believed that the church had been previously dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, who was venerated by the Langobards (VI-VII century), and to whom there is still dedicated an altar.
The single nave interior offers a marvelous spectacle thanks to the vaulted ceiling (end of XVII century) frescoed by Paolo Pagani, native of Castello, when he returned from a long stay in central Europe. The themes he depicts are connected with the pre-existing subjects of the underlying altar-pieces, thus giving rise to a complex composition dedicated to the victory of Christianity over Paga nism, of the Catholic faith over heresies.
1)    First altar on the left is the decapitation of the Baptist and above it at the base of the vault the Baptist preaching.
2)    On the right altar-piece with the three martyr Saints Catherine, Lucy and Apollonia, each with her symbols, and above it at the base of the vault, the three Saints dragged before the Roman judge.
3)    The second altar on the left: Our Lady of the Rosary of Lepanto dedicated to the naval victory over the Turcs (XVI century), a symbolic event of the triumph of Christianity. At the base of the altar-piece some members of the homonymous Confraternity.
4)    The second altar on the right: altar-piece of Our Lady enthroned with child and Saint Ambrose (IV century) and Saint Charles (XVI century) both bishops of Milan and decisive figures for the history of the Catholic Church.
5)    The two altar-pieces, the one with the theme of the victory of faith, and the other with the bishops Ambrose and Charles both have our Lady as the central figure and are in agreement with the theme of the second dome, dedicated to the Assumption of Our Lady with her following of prophets, saints, martyrs and angels.
6)    The first and second altar-pieces with their overhead relative  episodes based on the theme of overcoming paganism through martyrdom, agree with the theme of the first dome, the background of which is barely outlined and of difficult interpretation, but in the foreground emerges the fall of the rebel angels, a descending movement which contrasts with the upward movement of the second dome.
The entire composition is governed by a very impressive illusionistic architecture and by movements of masses giving a strong dramatic effect.
The themes of the vault are linked to Pagani’s personal vicissitudes and to the history of Castello, refuge in the Middle Ages of the Cathari, a group of heretics condemned by the Church of Rome and in XVII century particularly exposed to the influence of the Protestant Reform coming from nearby Switzerland.
In the apse there are five episodes of the life of Saint Martin by an unknown painter.

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