Pietro Giuseppe Auregio
Annunciation , Virgin Mary , Gabriel , Holy Spirit , Conception , Jesus
The sculptures inside this chapel have been entirely replaced at least twice. The first group was made by Francesco Sala (dates unknown) around 1663 and replaced just three years later, in 1666, by Bartolomeo Termine (dates unknown). Termine's figures were substituted in turn by Pietro Giuseppe Auregio (1667 - 1740) around 1714. The poor condition of Auregio's figures has been noted by a number of scholars. It may be that the unusually thick walls and few openings in this chapel creates a particularly humid environment, which is often the cause of more extreme or recurring damage to the figures in certain chapels. It is not clear who painted the original frescoes for the chapel, but it is almost certain that they too have been updated a number of times. The most recent intervention took place around 2018/2019, in anticipation of the fifth centenary celebration of the Coronation of the Virgin. The existing scene of an eastern-looking landscape, complete with a palm tree and columns with abstracted lotus capitals, likely dates to the previous restoration of 1969. The building's construction seems to have begun shortly before 1659, when the chapel is first mentioned in period documents. Based on this date, the initial design might be attributed to Giovanni Battista Negro (birth unknown, death 1714), who was director of the Fabbrica del Santuario from 1643 until his death. It seems that the vault and the roof of this chapel were redesigned at the beginning of the eighteenth century, perhaps by Negro's successor, Giovanni Siletto (1683 - c. 1756?). The project was funded by the village of Candelo, at first independently and then with the help of another nearby town, Cossato. These photographs were taken during the most recent restoration of the chapel (2018), so they do not reflect the current state of the decorations and some modern elements, such as plastic trays, are visible. / The Sacro Monte at Oropa is part of a larger devotional complex dedicated to an image of the Black Madonna that has been venerated on this site since 1295. This sculpture is believed to be one of three dark-skinned and miraculous images of the Virgin Mary that Saint Eusebius brought back from the Holy Land in the Fourth Century. The other two figures are located in the Sanctuary at Crea, another Sacro Monte, and the Cathedral of Cagliari in Sardinia, where Eusebius was born. Black Madonnas were common throughout western Europe during the Middle Ages and Early Modern Period. Modern Art Historians generally agree that the images darkened over time due to the soot released by nearby candles. Many of the sculptures have been repainted with light skin in recent years, including the examples at Crea and Varese. Unlike any of the other Sacri Monti Oropa was cared for by secular clergy throughout its entire history. The plans for a Sacro Monte to accompany the sanctuary date to 1620, the year that the new church building was finished, the statue of the Virgin was ceremonially crowned for the first time, and Duke Charles Emanuel I of Savoy declared himself the official protector of Oropa. The house of Savoy continued to fund and visit the elaborate sanctuary complex until the early twentieth century, even as they served as the Kings of Italy. The Sacro Monte, however, was built by local citizens, initiatives, and parishes. Only twelve of the twenty-eight chapels that were planned to illustrate the life of the Virgin Mary were ever completed. Primary documents detailing the Sacro Monte's construction are somewhat scarce compared to the records available at the other sites.