Saint Bernardino of Siena came to Bergamo in 1419 for the second time to quell the feuds that divided the Guelph and Ghibelline families of the city. Pietro Ondei, influenced by his preaching, gave the saint a piece of land to build a church and a convent for the Franciscan friars. The church was founded on April 27, 1422, by the bishop Francesco Aregazzi.
The project of urban reorganization of the city from the 19th century included the construction of a large avenue – Viale Papa Giovanni XXIII, which connected the railway station to Porta Sant’Agostino, one of the entrances to the upper part of the city, Bergamo Alta. For this reason, the monastic order was suppressed in 1810, the church was demolished in 1856 and then rebuilt a little further from the original place.
The ancient church was dedicated to the Madonna delle Grazie, but with the dogmatic proclamation of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, 1854, the bishop of Bergamo, Pietro Luigi Speranza, renamed the church to Santa Maria Immacolata delle Grazie. The new church was built between 1857 and 1875 to a design by the architect Antonio Preda.
ART AND ARCHITECTURE
The church is built in Neoclassical style, on a Greek cross plan. The tambour, with a peristyle of sixteen columns, is dominated by the large dome decorated on the inside with the Glory of Mary by Enrico Scuri, painted between 1865 and 1868.
Antonio Guadagnini was entrusted with the medallions facing each other on the arch of the atrium – the Nativity and the Marriage of Mary.
The apse was frescoed by the painter Giovanni Battista Epis, while the high altar was painted at the beginning of the 20th century by the brothers Cesare and Andrea Paleni.
HOW TO GET THERE
The Church of Santa Maria Immacolata delle Grazie is located about 550 meters from the Bergamo railway station. The closest bus stop is right in front of the church, on the bus Lines 1, 7 and 9.