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Wonder
Wonder  }  Place of worship

Church of St. Mary of the Miracles

In Brescia, a triumph of marble embroidered with dazzling whiteness.

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Where is

Lombardia

Corso Martiri della Libertà, 25122 Brescia BS, Italia (0m s.l.m.)

Directions
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Why visit the church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli in Brescia

One of the must-sees in downtown Brescia is the church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli, a triumph of high reliefs and sculptures both inside and out. It is a marvelous Renaissance church, made unmistakable by its white marble facade richly decorated with a tangle of sculptures and bas-reliefs, and its sumptuous square-plan interior with two domes over the nave.

Why it is special

The interior is indeed sumptuous, but also extraordinarily light: slender columns finely decorated in bas-relief, capitals that look like embroidery, and a bright, airy dome with statues of the twelve apostles. Also beautiful are the canvases, set in marble niches, by important painters of Lombard Mannerism such as Grazio Cossali and Pietro Marone.

Not to be missed: the thousand details of the facade

But it is in front of the façade that one is left to admire with bated breath: a high porch of snow-white Botticino marble, perhaps the work of Sammicheli, supported by four columns and adorned with fine bas-reliefs. One really does not know where to rest one's eyes: among crosses, candelabra, spears, vases, angels, masks, torches, cornucopias on the pillars, animals, flowers and fruits. The most extraordinary are the high reliefs at the base of the columns. Not to be missed is the one with the satyr chasing a bird, amid a wonderful intertwining of vine shoots with large bunches of grapes--a strange subject for a church.

A bit of history

The church was built between 1486 and 1500, but construction continued throughout the early part of the 1500s with additions and alterations. In March 1945 it was almost destroyed by a bombing from which the façade and canvases were fortunately saved. It was beautifully rebuilt in the 1950s.

Fun fact: the "little shrine" that originated the church.

The construction of the church was deliberated by the city authorities as a result of the continuous pilgrimage attracted by a miraculous image of the Virgin painted on a private house. In those days, and until not so many years ago, popular veneration for so-called "santelle," steles, holy shrines, crosses, and images painted on the walls of houses and farmsteads, was widespread. They represented Madonnas, Crucifixes, local saints and were the object of strong popular devotion. Not infrequently miracles were attributed to one of these, especially if, as in the case of Brescia, yet another plague had just ended.

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Recommended by
Patrizia Iome

Visiting this beautiful church is like immersing yourself in the Renaissance.

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