Religious shrines

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Religious shrines

The last supper, painting by Giovan Battista Moroni

The bond between mankind and faith is at the base of every human settlement, and is still strongly rooted in places where we live. The skylines of towns and hamlets is studded with bell towers, some majestic, some more humble, yet always solemn; their bells still toll the rhythm of not just religious, but also civil life, just like in the past it used to gather the peasants back from the fields. The most careful listeners will recognize slight differences in their sound from one village to the next: each vibe associated to a bell carries the name of a saint, and their rings have been codified by the local people long time ago and are still today. But the bell sound is not the only difference between the single bell towers: each tower differs from all the others, in a competitive spirit of creating the most amazing and original monument to each hometown. We can find tall bell towers, some very high, some decorated, some with domes, in earthenware tiles or rock,  with statues or other embellishments. They were built in the name of a strong and deep-rooted faith, most of the times enlightened by country priests, capable of creating cohesion and guiding  the goodwill of the people there living.  This goodwill and commitment to communicate their faith left its marks not only in the bell towers but also in churches, sanctuaries, country oratories , in a number  that has no equal in the world, a peculiar creativity and a keenness to express  also joy, hope, beauty, pain and sadness. From the plague oratories to the several churches with Longobard, Romanic, Gothic, Renaissance and Neoclassical characters, all revealing  invaluable artistic masterpieces in their inside:  representations, altarpieces, relics, resulting from the faith of worshippers  and the refined genius of famous artists. Behind every object and ornaments there is a story, a tradition, a religious truth. We have no verified information about the spread of Christianity throughout our territory; according to the tradition, the area was widely evangelized ever since the early centuries, thanks to the Holy Martyrs who travelled through this land. Interesting evidence was found in Bariano in the former Convent of Neveri, from which probably originated a baptism church, and in Fara Gera d'Adda, where the "Longobarda Cathedralica Autarena" once rose.

The popular devotion was mostly towards the saints and Martyrs, and its roots are to be found in the cult of relics. The most widespread cult worshipped the Virgin Mary, Mother of God; several churches have been dedicated to her, because even the poorer social classes felt the need of firm points in their everyday life and humble condition.  Shrines, simple signs such as wall paintings or bas relief tiles celebrating miraculous events, a lucky escape, a healing or a grace received, are dedicated to her. The deep devotion also led, between centuries  15th and 17th, to the building of huge and impressive sanctuaries and parishes, such as the Santuario di Nostra Signora della Fontana in Caravaggio, the Santuario di Santa Maria della Croce in Crema, the Santuario della Beata Vergine del Rosario in Antegnate, and many more that we can’t mention here.