Abisde1943

Artistic decor

Very little has been kept of the artistic heritage with which St. Rufinus’ Church was decorated. What is left could be lost forever due to the damage the weather continues to inflict upon the building (especially in the form of water and snow infiltration), as well as, the fragility of the perimeter walls of the church and its ceiling, which is giving up as the roof is falling apart. The photographs of the interior of the church, which some visitors took at their own risk, show a sombre atmosphere, that of a neglected building which is not merely damaged by the weather, but entirely abandoned and disregarded by everyone. Though severely damaged, the remaining decors are still an eloquent remainder of the enrooted cultural and religious tradition which had an influence on all the areas of Borbera.

SoffittoThe only vast rectangular apsidal nave, which was painted in fresco in 1912 by Francesco Ponzetti and Clemente Salsa is covered by a barrel vault, placed on a bevelled cornice, that is now severely indented and generally damaged. The interior which is deprived of furniture is defined by gigantic lesenes across the lateral walls in which three niches open up on each side, and the mural, a fresco decoration is dated 1929-1932 on the counter-façade. Giovanni Biglieri of Cerendero, worked as master builder under the supervision of the painter Ponzetto. The parishioner, who was very dedicated to the maintenance of the church, diligently built the lesenes, the capitals, the cornices and provided the final touches. In 1938, he also completed the plastering of the outer walls, which was started in the first few years of the 20th century.

 Part of the fresco paintings which represent the Exaltation of the Holy Cross surrounded by adoring Angels, the Last Judgement and the Eucharist Symbol rising form the clouds, on top of a gold crown held by two points up in the air, evoking  the tender emotions of childhood, can still be seen on the ceiling. However, cracks showing the underlying bricks and stones layers are now present. Though the features of the remaining fresco paintings are harmonically simple, they show a peculiar and balanced usage of chromatic colours, defined by quick brush strokes to give the impression of movement, which is also expressed in the drapery of the clothing. This technique makes the figures represented in the paintings come to life and gives the images a delicate tone in the whole. The pastel colour combination, inclined towards yellow and ochre and interspersed with golden tones with the addition of white and light blue colours, gives a luminous effect to the remaining images which can be still partly seen on the elaborate cornices which once enclosed them. The lateral walls were covered by stucco and friezes which highlighted the architectural elements that enriched the entire church, as well as the portraits of Saints enclosed by elaborate medallions on the ceiling. However, the magnificent fresco which stood out elegantly on the apse was lost. .

Affreschi The fresco contrasted by a painted canopy above it, represented Jesus on a Throne, overlooking the celestial city of Jerusalem, surrounded by the seven spirits of God and the Four Living Creatures, as described in the in the Apocalipsis (Ap 4,1-11).In this fresco, the atmosphere of praise, glory and hope in the eternal light was highlighted by the luminous figures that stood out in the chiaroscuro and layers of clouds, with the aid of the external light which was filtered through the polychrome windows, heightening the mystic sense of spirituality and prayer. Hymns, (which are still partly legible today) were engraved all the way from the cornice to the presbytery, where the phrase «Et adorabunt Eum omnes reges terrae, /omnes gentes servient Ei» from the Sal 72,11 used to be inscripted. At the bottom of the nave, on the lateral walls, two frescos portraying N.S di Lourdes and the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan river  can be found. Though cracks are present on them, they are still well kept. In both images, light seems to be the principal technique which continued to inspire the painters. The luminous and chromatic shades define the expressions of those portrayed in the fresco painting.

N.S. di LourdesFurthermore, the painters created a certain subtle perspective with rapid brush strokes which are visible in the pictures. Further decorations were present on the ceilings of the rectory’s rooms Today, St.Rufinus’ Church is no longer furnished.  Wood crucifixes, statues, pictures, white marble balustrade , canopies, religious artefacts, the wooden choir, cupboards,  precious chandeliers from the 18th and 19th century, as well as, all the rectory furniture, have been either lost or stolen. The artistic decor was mainly made up by 2 marble altars (the largest dating back to 1887),  an elaborate wooden pulpit built in 1945, and two statues of N.S. del Carmine, one of which was made out of marble went all the way back to 1645 and a marble baptismal font which dated back to 1650. The marble statues were placed for many years in a niche at the centre of the choir, gilded and decorated in 1948 by the painter Luigi Gambino of Alessandria.

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