Cathedral of San Pietro
Diocesi di Alessandria ( sec. XIII; XIX )
Via Cremona, 15121 Alessandria, Italy
The cathedral of Alessandria is found at the centre of the city, on the site of a building in Lombard Gothic style that had been demolished in 1803 to meet the military requirements of Napoleon Bonapart. In 1805 the chapter obtained from Napoleon in person the 14th-century church of San Marco, which required some rebuilding (1807–10), entrusted to architect Cristoforo Valizzone. The result was a Neoclassical-style church in contrast with the surviving sections, which were the nave vault and the pillars. The dual stylistic effect was eliminated in 1874–79 by Vercelli architect Edoardo Arboreo Mella (1808–84), achieving the current Bramante style of architecture with the crossing of the two arms. The current decoration dates from 1926–29, entrusted to Luigi Morgari of Turin (1857–1935), while the high altar is dated 1954. The chancel is graced by five stained glass windows (1954) depicting the Immaculate Virgin, Saint Pius V, Saint Baudolino, Saint Paul of the Cross, and the Blessed Gregorio Grassi. To complete the décor, there is the organ (1929), whose façades adorn the four galleries above the chancel. Behind the high altar there is an admirable 18th-century inlaid wooden choir, surmounted by a magnificent painting by Callisto da Lodi (1546), of Saint Peter Between Saints Paul and John the Baptist. Outside, the Neoclassical façade features Corinthian columns. Decorative paintings depict the Deliverance of Saint Peter, Saint Peter Receiving the Keys, Saint Peter Meets Jesus on the Waters of Lake Tiberias, by Luigi Vacca of Turin (1771–1854). Vacca also decorated the tympanum with God the Father, while five marble statues in the mansard represent Christ the Redeemer and the four Evangelists. On the left side of the façade a statue surviving from the old cathedral depicts the legendary character Gagliaudo, who is said to have saved Alessandria during Barbarossa’s siege of the city in 1174.
A fragment of the Holy Cross is preserved in the Beata Vergine della Salve chapel and an inscription on the back of the reliquary states it was donated to the city of Alessandria in 1208.A fresco depicts the Crusaders, Alberto Fontana Podestà of Alessandria, and Opizio De Reversatis as he donates the relic. The same chapel is home to the relic of the Holy Thorn – purchased by Castellino Colli from a soldier who saved it during the Sack of Rome of 1527 – and the miraculous Simulacrum showing the Virgin supported by Saint John the Evangelist at the foot of the Cross, revered even before 1168 in the church of the ancient Borgo Rovereto and connected to the Mater Dolorosa cult.
The Saint Baudolino chapel altar houses the relics of the saint, patron of Alessandria. Saint Baudolino lived in Villa del Foro at the time of the Lombard king, Liutprand (712–744). The oldest testimony of his life comes from the historian Paul the Deacon (c.720–799) in his Historia Langobardorum, where Baudolino is described as a man of great sanctity, a hermit and miracle-worker. Baudolino’s protection of the city is traditionally said to have occurred in 1174, when he appeared on the bastions of Alessandria and put to flight the besieging Ghibellines. In 1189 a church was built in his honour, entrusted to the Humiliati order and later, in 1571, to the Dominicans. When the church was closed in 1803, the saint’s remains were transferred to the church of Sant’Alessandro then, in 1810, to the cathedral. In 1189 the city established the vow of wax in his honour, a vow renovated in 1599 and ratified by the diocesan synod of 1602. In 1786 Saint Baudolino was proclaimed the patron of the city and diocese of Alessandria, as well as being considered the first bishop, in accordance with a tradition spread by the Humiliati; his feast day is 10 November.
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The building may be visited at the times indicated unless a religious function is in progress
Nei giorni feriali Rosario nella Cappella della Madonna della Salve alle ore 17.30
- Cattedrale di Alessandria
- type of building
- Via Cremona, 15121 Alessandria, Italy
- Tel. 0131-231246
- food venue
VIA S. GIACOMO DELLA VITTORIA 63, ALESSANDRIA, 15121, AL
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ISTITUTO MADONNA DELLE GRAZIE
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