Pieve della Mitria

The plebeian complex of the Pieve della Mitria stands on the left bank of the Garza river, at the mouth of the “Valle delle Cartiere.” There are two hypotheses regarding the name of the place handed down by popular tradition: the first traces it back (alluding to the bishop’s typical headgear) to a 19th-century sign of a local tavern or in any case to a bishop’s estate; the second hypothesis instead traces the name back to the Persian sun cult of the  God Mithras, which was widespread among Roman legionaries, and therefore in the territory of Brescia during the imperial age. The second hypothesis can be confirmed by numerous finds dating back to the 1st century AD, including a stele with a virile figure, perhaps Celtic Hercules or the God Mithras himself. Archaeological excavations carried out since 1990, have allowed us to hypothesise how the current church, raised and enlarged between the second half of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th century, was built on previous religious buildings. In fact, the remains of a sacred Roman area were found in the rectory courtyard, on whose ruins an early Christian chapel was erected. Some fragments of a pictorial decoration remain in the Byzantine frescoes of the Last Supper and the Stories of Saint Ursula, between the second and third bays to the right of the entrance. The church is an extraordinary example of a Romanesque-Lombard “hall” temple. It is divided into three bays along which frescoes, mostly votive, can be admired. One of the most valuable is the one with the saints Jerome, Thomas of Canterbury and Anthony of Padua chasing away some soldiers (1516), which also shows one of the oldest depictions of the valley’s paper mills. The authors include great masters from the Brescian school, such as Altobello Melone, a disciple of Romanino, Paolo da Caylina, the Younger and Vincenzo Civerchio.

The Pieve della Mitria is one of the stages of the “Sacred and Art Route” of the Ecomuseum of Valle Trompia – The Mountain and Industry.