Resurrection of Christ

This chapel of the Resurrection is the first of five chapels representing the glorious mysteries of the rosary. Building work was completed by 1623, but it seems that Francesco Silva (1568 - 1641) had already finished his work on the nine terracotta sculptures the year before. Conservation efforts in 1991 revealed the inscribed date 1622 on one of the figures. The figures are grouped towards the back of the chapel, leaving an open area on the floor in front of the windows. There may have been plans to open another door on the left-hand side of the chapel, so that pilgrims could walk through the foreground and out the existing door on the right, but they were never executed. Isodoro Bianchi (1581 - 1662) painted frescoes both inside and on the exterior of this chapel decades later, around 1650, perhaps with the help of his sons Pompeo and Francesco. The Bianchi were from Campione, a town on the shores of Lago Lugano in Canton Ticino. Isodoro was a contemporary of Pier Francesco Mazzucchelli (1573-1626), il Morazzone, and the two painters often worked together. Bianchi went to Piedmont during the Great Plague of Milan (c. 1629 - 1631) to complete a commission left unfinished after Morazzone's death and was eventually granted a position as court painter to the Duke of Savoy. Much like the other chapels on this portion of the mountain, Chapel Eleven has suffered great damage from damp and humidity. Girolamo Poloni (1877 - 1954) carried out extensive renovations in 1926, covering over the paint losses that extended about a meter high from the floor around the entire back of the chapel. Three panels of souls being raised from Purgatory and Limbo in a hilly green landscape that bears a striking resemblance to Lomabrdy were repainted to show a shadowy nondescript setting. Poloni also painted over a scene of Christ meeting his mother with beams of light that drew more attention to the three-dimensional figure rising from the tomb. The paintings were restored to their original compositions in 1991. The fresco on the vault shows hierarchical rows of angels waiting for Jesus to take his place beside God the Father and the Holy Spirit, who are pictured at the center of the scene. It seems closely related to Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo's (1538 - 1600) composition in the vault frescoes of the Foppa Chapel (c. 1570) at the church of San Marco in Milan. / The Sacro Monte sopra Varese is built on Mount Olona, also called Mount Vellate, which is believed to be the site of Saint Ambrose's final victory over an army of Arian heretics in the year 389. A church dedicated to the Madonna del Monte was erected on the site in the 10th century and rebuilt by the duke of Milan, Galeazzo Maria Sforza, in the late 15th century. Two local women established an Augustinian convent there in 1474 and, little more than a century later, another of their number proposed that a Sacro Monte be built leading up to the sanctuary. There are fourteen chapels and three monumental arches illustrating the mysteries of the rosary, preceded by a church dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. The final mystery is represented by the cult statue on the high altar, which is attributed to Saint Luke. The chapels were designed by Giuseppe Bernascone, il Mancino (1565 - 1627), an architect from Varese who trained with Pellegrino Tibaldi (1527 - 1596), or Pellegrino de' Pellegrini, and constructed quickly between 1605 and 1699. They are significantly larger than the chapels at any other Sacro Monte.
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