The most important church of Novara is the Basilica of San Gaudenzio, dedicated to the first bishop of the city. Its main feature is the 19th century dome. The mortal remains of the bishop are preserved in a chapel known as the Scurolo of Saint Guadentius.
Basilica of San Gaudenzio Novara
Address: Via San Gaudenzio, 22 – 28100 Novara. Phone: +39 0321 629894. Opening times: From 08:00 till 12:00 and from 14:30 till 19:00. Ticket price: Free.
History and description
It is mostly because of its striking dome that the Basilica of San Gaudenzio is seen as the symbol of Novara. The architect Antonelli added this 121 meter high dome to the original church in the 19th century. In order to be able to support the structure, Antonelli made use of another structure inside the esternal one.
The statue of Christ crowning the dome was the work of Pietro Zucchi.
Antonelli is best known because he also constructed the symbol of Turin, the Mole Antonelliana.
Construction of the original basilica started in 1557. The architect was Pellegrino Tibaldi. The bell tower was added in the 18th century, by Benedetto Alfieri.
The Latin cross interior consists of a single nave and a rather wide transept. The side chapels are interconnected.
What to see
Scurolo di San Gaudenzio
The 18th century reliquary chapel known as Scurolo di San Gaudenzio is located in the right transept. It houses a silver urn in which the mortal remains of San Gaudenzio are preserved. The chapel is only open to the public on January 22nd, the feast day of St. Gaudentius.
The most striking feature of the facade is the monumental entrance. The carved walnut door with its rosettes and cast iron head decorations are also the work of Antonelli.
The Chapel of the Santissimo Sacramento contains eight 18th century paintings by Fiamminghino. The works show events from the life of the city’s patron saint.
The frescoes in the Chapel of the Guardian Angel (Cappella dell’Angelo Custode) were painted by Tanzio da Varallo, in 1627. One of the frescoes depicts the patron saints of the Nazari family, who had commissioned the frescoes.
Morazzone painted the frescoes in the Cappella della Buona Morte (“of the Good Death”).
The Chapel of the Nativity contains a six-panel polyptych painted by Gaudenzio Ferrari. It was painted between 1514 and 1516. The work was moved to its present allocation from the San Vincenzo Church.