Sanctuary of the Madonna della Neve (Snow Virgo)


Probably originally, at least from 1229 and still up to testimonials of the year 1675, identifiable as “Chiesuola of S. Orso”, on the border between Palestro and Vinzaglio; the Church of the Madonnina della Neve, located on the Vinzaglio road, is cited for the first time in the Report on the status of the Parish San Martino Church in Palestro” ; by the rector Don Turchelli (1772); probably the new title may correspond to the internal and external expansion, comprising the small temple pronaos, in neoclassical style, the apse and the sacristy; the bell tower dates back to 1931 (Ing. Renzo Baldino); the painting depicting the Madonna della Neve, on the altar, is a 1971 work of Vercelli painter Francesco Giuseppe Rinone (1901-1982), and replaces an earlier canvas by Fagnani, which was stolen in the 1960s; the cult of the Madonnina is still felt today and in the past from the local population. This was testified by many ex-voto tablets, many of which unfortunately disappeared as a result of various thefts, also due to the very isolated position of the sanctuary.
Inside several fragments, clearly identifiable in the presbytery area and in correspondence of the circular vault with a lowered dome, suggest the presence, under the heavy ones successive stratifications, of a possible and articulated fresco decoration, dating in part to the original period and partly to the aforementioned late eighteenth century reforms. The images of the two bishops, instead, date back to some repainting in the 1930s.
On the left wall, inside a niche, still stands out a Madonna with child, from the seventeenth-century period, fresco already described in bad condition by Zambelli in his Palestro – Chronical Memoirs; of 1970 and even attributed by the same author, basing on reported traditions, but without evidence, at the school of Gaudenzio Ferrari. Consolidation interventions of this fresco (2016), allowed to re-emerge a painted frame with large scrolls, which in the upper part would seem to show a cartouche. The artesian well, with the small obelisk monument, is from 1936, while the tondo, depicting a Madonna with child, inserted in the tympanum in the 80s, is by the painter Carmelo Rota Bachì.

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In update


  • Palestro's parish archive
  • Palestro's municipal archive
  • AA.VV., Palestro, numero unico, Gallardi e Ugo Editori, Vercelli 1893 (rist. 1961, 1974, 1989)
  • AA.VV., Memorie di un architetto, Torino 1897
  • R. Orsenigo, Vercelli Sacra, Vercelli 1909
  • G. Battezzati, Palestro, Gallardi, Vercelli 1921 (rist. 1991)
  • E. Zambelli, Memorie sulla storia antica di Palestro, Paltrinieri, Novara 1959
  • E. Zambelli, Palestro - memorie cronistoriche, S.E.T.E., Vercelli 1970
  • E. Zambelli, Palestro - memorie cronistoriche, supplemento al 1° volume, S.E.T.E., Vercelli 1971
  • M. Merlo, Castelli, rocche, case-forti, torri della Provincia di Pavia, Volume Primo, Editrice Fusi, Pavia 1971
  • A. Bongianino, Palestro, la Festa del Castello, Palestro 1975
  • V. Cervetta (a cura di), Ossario di Palestro (1893-1993), Comune di Palestro, 1993
  • E.Zanone, Palestro 1940-1945, Gallo, Vercelli 1995
  • AA.VV., Parrocchie allo Specchio, Saviolo, Vercelli 1996
  • AA.VV., Approfondimenti di storia palestrese, Comune di Palestro, 1998
  • E. Zanone, Le chiese di Palestro, Vercelli 2003
  • AA.VV., 1006-2006 La chiesa Parrocchiale di Palestro, Vercelli 2006
  • E. D. Vicini, Educazione forma e decoro: le scuole lomelline del secondo ottocento al primo novecento, in Viglevanum, Anno XXVIII, aprile 2018

Text Arch. Riccardo Pasquino
Photography Andrea Fornasini
Translations in english by the I° Grade Secondary School F. Ressico of Palestro. (School year 2018-2019)

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