Sacro Monte of Crea
The Sacro Monte of Crea is located in the heart of Monferrato, on a hilltop surrounded by a wonderful vineyard landscape. The Sacro Monte was founded in 1589 on the initiative of Costantino Massino, Prior of the Lateran Canons at the Sanctuary of the Madonna Assunta of Crea.Massino proposed to build a religious itinerary imitating the Sacro Monte of Varallo, to promote prayer and meditation and to renew the Marian devotion connected to the Sanctuary, an important pilgrimage site since the Middle Ages. The construction of the Sacro Monte involved the dukes of Monferrato, the local nobility, the higher clergy and the lay community. During the first phase of its history (ca 1589-1657), many important artists worked at the Sacro Monte, such as Guglielmo Caccia (“il Moncalvo”), Michele Prestinari and the de Wespin brothers (“Tabacchetti”). The latter were responsible for the spectacular sculptures of the “Paradiso” (Heaven) chapel (no. 23), created between about 1604 and 1612.
During the eighteenth century the Sacro Monte slowly fell into disrepair. Between 1796 and 1801 French revolutionary armies rampaged through the chapels, smashing statues and defacing frescoes. For a few decades the Sacro Monte was abandoned and only in 1820 a community of Franciscan friars, newly installed at the Sanctuary, began to restore some buildings. A systematic restoration campaign, supported by the Archbishop Nazari di Calabiana of Milan, started in 1885 and lasted until 1920s. During this phase, in which many chapels were rebuilt from scratch, famous Symbolist sculptor Leonardo Bistolfi modelled the wonderful statues of the Ascent to Calvary (chapel no. 16).
Map of the Sacro Monte