The prologue and the synthesis of the experience at the Sacro Monte di Varallo!
The Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie was built between 1486 and 1493 at the behest of the Franciscan friar Bernardino Caimi. It is located just outside the ancient city center of Varallo, and in 1931 Pope Pius IX raised it to the dignity of a minor basilica.
Inside there is one of the most precoius works of Valsesia and Piedmont, the great Parete Gaudenziana. It is an entire wall frescoed by Gaudenzio Ferrari in 1513, which illustrate some episodes from the life and passion of Jesus, from the Annunciation to the Resurrection. This immense illustrated wall measures 10.40 meters in width and 8 meters in height, and divides the church into two areas. One behind the fresco was used as a preaching room, while the one in front was used for celebrations and the faithful could freely access it. The immediacy of Gaudenzio’s painting makes these scenes easily recognizable and understandable.
The correspondence between the scenes painted in the squares of the wall and the representations inside the chapels of the Sacro Monte is total. For this reason, the Gaudenzian Wall is a sort of preparation for asceticism proposed in the path of the Sacro Monte.
You can find the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie at the foot of the climb that leads from Piazza Gaudenzio Ferrari to the Sacro Monte, a few steps from the cable car departure. Today the cloister next to the church houses the Missionary Sisters.
Opening hours: from 6.30 a.m to 11.45 a.m and from 3.00 p.m to 6.00 p.m