Sanctuary of Sant’Onofrio

The Sanctuary of Sant’Onofrio is located in the municipality of Bovezzo but can be easily reached by car from Lumezzane. The complex has ancient origins although it was only mentioned for the first time in 1505.

Today, those who visit the church find a relatively homogeneous building whose appurtenances have grown over the centuries and now cover three of the temple’s four sides and blend uniformly with the façade. The continuous pitches outline the gabled profile of the entire building and only two squat obelisks indicate the actual limits of the church front, which is also lightened by the central window aligned with the entrance door, and by a second smaller window for the pilgrims who could therefore see the altar even when the temple was closed.

Pictorial cycle

The sacred space consists of a simple rectangular nave, but what is truly striking is the rich pictorial cycle that covers almost the entire nave with a series of scenes narrating the life of the anchorite. Now that the initial excitement of the discovery has worn off, which credited the entire sixteenth-century cycle to the painter Girolamo da Romano, the famous Romanino, today it is possible to recognise that several hands were involved in its creation, attributable in any case to the Brescian School (such as those of the painter Altobello Melone). Beyond the simple brick altar stands a wooden altarpiece from the early 19th century, albeit in a more archaic style. It contains wooden statues of the Virgin Mary and the saints Firmo and Onofrio, works of discreet workmanship despite heavy repainting in the 20th century. In particular, the anatomical modelling and halo of the statue of Saint Onofrio suggest that it has more ancient origins.

Next to the altar are two 19th-century wooden doors painted in faux marble. The doors have a series of spikes at the top to support candles, thus recalling the doors of the “Macchine dei Tridui” (Tridui Machines), widely used in Brescian tradition since the eighteenth century.

The small church of San Rocco

The small church of San Rocco was built as an extension of a pre-existing chapel, probably built at the end of the 15th century or the beginning of the 16th century. The church is dedicated to San Rocco and was called “Chiesola di San Rocco della Fontana” due to the presence of a spring nearby. Starting in 1478, the cult of  San Rocco had, in fact, spread in the province following the epidemic of the so-called “mal zuch,” a devotion that grew stronger in the Bovezzo area from the early 16th century, made difficult by periodic wars and epidemics and continued throughout the 1600s.

Following the cholera epidemic of 1836, which hit the town hard, the chapel was enlarged at the behest of the community. The existing building was partially demolished and incorporated into the new construction as a sacristy,  preserving the fresco of the original chapel.

The famous painting of the church of San Rocco, dating back to the early 16th century although still in 15th-century style, depicts the Crucifixion. In the centre is Christ on the cross; to the left are the Madonna and San Rocco; to the right, San Giovanni and San Sebastiano. It is not unusual to find Saints Rocco and Sebastiano in the same depictions of the period since both were considered protectors against the plague and contagious diseases, although in Bovezzo, during the 16th century, San Rocco was often accompanied by San Fermo. The lower part of the fresco depicts the faithful in prayer, the devout patrons of the painting, possibly the confraternity of San Rocco, which was absorbed by that of San Carlo at the beginning of the 17th century. Inside, there is also a 19th-century wooden sculpture of the saint, donated by a devotee. In August, the small church of San Rocco is the heart of a festival dedicated to the saint, organised by the Associazione Sagra di San Rocco.