The Cathedral and the Baptistery of Biella are located in the Piazza Duomo. The church was constructed in 1402, on top of what was left of an 11th century church. The Cathedral is dedicated to Santo Stefano, the patron saint of the city.
Address: Piazza Duomo – Biella. Phone: +39 015 23521. Opening times: . Ticket price: Free.
History and description
The Cathedral of Biella was constructed as a result of a vow made to the Madonna of Oropa, who had succeeded in keeping the city safe from the 1399 Plague epidemic.
In 1772, after Biella had become a bishop’s seat, the church became a Cathedral.
Over the years, the church was enlarged (on the north side) and altered. Around 1826, Felice Marandono designed and constructed the portico and a new, neo-Gothic facade.
Many of the reconstructions and enlargements were paid for by the Savoy.
Dedicated to Santa Maria Maggiore and Santo Stefano, the three-nave Duomo di Biella, with its arches, vaults and octagonal dome, stands on the remains of a small 11th-century church, some capitals of which can now be admired, and is the city’s main religious building. Not to be outdone is the nearby Romanesque Baptistery, built over a burial ground in the early 11th century.
The foundations of the original church are located below the church square, together with an ancient cemetery. In the 1940s, the space next to these foundations was used to create a space where people hid during bombings.
What to see
Several guilds had altars erected inside the church. The 14th century frescoes at the end of the right aisle depict the patron saints of these guilds.
The room to the left of door on the north side contains a so-called “Sunday Christ” (Cristo della Domenica) fresco. Painted aound 1470, this iconography shows Jesus wounded by various sharp and pointy tradesman’s tools. Originally, this fresco was visible outside the church, as a warning to people not to work on the day of rest. The Council of Trent later abolished (1545-1563) later abolished this kind of painting. In Italy, depictions of the “Sunday Christ” had existed only in the northern part of the country anyway.