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Guide to the Church of the Rosario parte III.

High Altar.

Designed by Ferdinando Bibiena in 1727. the monumental altar lives through a play of concave and convex lines which give it an elegant movement.

A niche in the centre houses the statue of the Madonna and Child, sculpted in l626 in Piacenza by a local artist, based on preliminary studies of Guercino when he himself was busy working on the dome frescoes of the Piacenza cathedral.

When the statue arrived in Cento in 1627. it was taken to the house of Lorenzo Gennari where it was painted by Guercino. The full figure of the Madonna with her head bent slightly to the right rises from the base chequered with angel heads.

High Altar Church of the Rosario , Cento (FE)
High Altar

In one arm She holds the kicking Child intent on drawing His Mothers attention, the other arm stretched out to show the rosary beads.

The vibrant movement of the whole is accentuated by the fluttering robes.

Around the niche, the rosary theme is represented by 15 brightly coloured oval tiles which sometime after 1853 came to replace the original monochrome tiles of Stefano Felice Ficatelli of Cento.

Above the three central ovals there is a scroll bearing the words Lilia mista rosis. highlighted by large volutes on either side holding two angels whose outstretched arms point to the dove of the Holy Spirit radiating light around itself.

Madonna of the Rosary Church of the Rosario, Cento (FE)
Madonna of the Rosary

In a central position on the huge mixed-line trabeation, the image is flanked by two angels with outstretched wings in precarious balance on the richly decorated robust bases. Also the curvilinear crown of the cornice is decorated with angels and flowers.

Two statues stand within the twisted columns to accentuate the rosary devotion of the altar: one is the figure of David, king of Israel, who rests one hand on a 10-cord harp (a symbol of the rosary decades) and the other is the High Priest Aron, who once held a flowered sceptre in his hand (todav no longer existing between his broken fingers) to indicate the virginal motherhood of Mary. The two sleek statues characterised by the classic Bolognese, naturalism might be the work of Giuseppe Maria Mazza (Bologna 1653-1741) as suggested by the stylistic comparisons with other works by the same artist.

David e Aronn Church of the Rosario , Cento (FE)
David e Aronn

In an elegant quadrilobed oval in the recess of the vault Giacomo Pavia (Bologna 1699 - Madrid 1750) painted a fresco of Our Lady handing the rosary to Saint Dominic according to the traditional iconography.

The whole fresco is set in a wide frame, the work of Carlo Giuseppe Carpi (Parma 1676-Bologna 1790) and the corners are adorned with overhanging shelves bearing four large vases of flowers. The fresco decoration of the renovated presbyterial space was the wish of the canon Pietro Bagni in 1728.

Our Lady handing the Rosary to Saint Dominic Church of the Rosario , Cento (FE)
Our Lady handing the Rosary to Saint Dominic

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