|8. Natività di Gesù|
The erection of the building, initiated in the first half of the 17th century and ended in 1715, took almost a century. The commissioners of the chapel were the shepherds of the valley of Oropa, whose choice of subject was a Mystery directly connected with the pastoral world. Lacking the necessary funds they pleaded for help to the Duke Carlo Emanuele II, who financed part of the construction. Externally the edifice presents a square ground plan with a porch closed to both sides, whose access is provided by a Serliana arch. Internally the ground plan is geometrically similar, although the vertexes of the perimeter are reinforced by four pilasters sustaining the ribbed cupola. The stonework are on the arch and the trabeation, the cornices and the architrave of the door, as well as on the corbels sustaining the embossed roof.
The scene is an extraordinary life-size nativity, initiated by P.G. Auregio in 1716, one of the most ancient to be found in the region. The model of the Bethlehem cave was built using local material, such as stone slabs for the roof and local wood for the supporting structure. The statues placed within the cave represent the Baby, the Madonna, St. Joseph, the ox, the donkey and two angels. Jesus, portrayed with the features of an healthy local infant, is perhaps the most interesting figure of the group. Two shepherds kneeling are looking on the scene; the third, playing on a wind instrument, is seated in the right corner. The triumph of the angels includes approximately a hundred cherubs resting on terracotta clouds, suspended above the cave on the walls of the chapel. Every statue of the group is of remarkable value, confirming the talent of P.G. Auregio, also evident in the modeling of the animals, particularly the ox and the donkey. G. Galliari, the set designer who also worked at the chapel of the ‘Dimora’, intervened on the damaged painted background frescoes and on the statues during the restoration works of 1969.
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