The Museum of Sacred Art of Fiumalbo
“The Museum of Sacred Art of Fiumalbo collects objects for liturgical functions preserved by the Confraternities of the Holy Sacrament and Immaculate Conception.
The history of Fiumalbo and the Museum of Sacred Art is intimately linked to the events that, since the sixteenth century, have highlighted the particular religious vocation so strongly impressed in the lives of its inhabitants and in the same architectural and urban fabric of the town center.
Madonna and Child enthroned with Saints Bartholomew and John the Baptist – by Saccaccino Saccaccini from Carpi
Hosted since 1997 in the seventeenth-century church of Santa Caterina da Siena, known as the “dei Rossi” church, from the local homonymous Confraternity, it can be considered the most interesting museum of sacred art in the Modenese Apennines.
The museum, founded by Professor Pietro Lenzini with his liturgical vestments, tells the story of the Fiumalbina Church, which in the second half of the sixteenth century began to increase its prestige, which in 1729, according to a document drafted by the archpriest Cesari, revealed that 31 priests, 14 clerics, and 11 friars lived in the village.
This significant presence of the clergy contributed to the production of a rich trousseau for sacred celebrations.
A significant element that consolidates and accentuates the popular devotion is the two confraternities of the Holy Sacrament and Immaculate Conception, a vital reference point for the Fiumalbina community that has guaranteed their survival, not only formal, to the present day.
And it is mainly to these two institutions, whose importance goes beyond devotional and charitable purposes, to which a large and articulated collection of objects for liturgical functions has been collected and found its natural home in the Museum of Sacred Art, located in the Church of Santa Caterina, called “dei Rossi”. In the suggestive and muffled environment of the Church, the works, perfectly inserted in a congenial museographic context, seem to rediscover their identity and meaning.
Of particular note in the center of the presbytery is the impressive wooden altar, dating back to the 18th century and created by the Ceretti school, finely gilded with a ciborium and adorned with precious niches, statues, and pinnacles that give it a sumptuously decorative appearance. In the space behind it rises a beautiful two-level walnut monastic choir, while on the left side, in the chapel dedicated to the Holy Annunciation, it is possible to admire a precious carved and gilded wooden altarpiece dating back to 1622. On the opposite side, protected by a glass panel, a polychrome wooden crucifix of fine workmanship, attributable to the 18th century, seems to capture the viewer’s gaze due to the particular iconic fixity of the face.
Continuing the visit inside the church, one can stop with pleasant amazement at the refined fabrics of the liturgical vestments, embellished with silver trims and unusual rose and violet colors on the backgrounds.
And still other objects, a testament to a craft skill that has taken on the character of a true artistic expression, emotionally involve the visitor, such as the splendid astile cross in silver-plated and gilded copper produced in Emilia, and then chalices, ciboria, ostensories, and carteglorie that find their original intended use in this place that is already a museum.
The collection is completed by some interesting paintings, among which deserve particular attention the “Madonna with Child Enthroned” and the “Saints Bartholomew and John the Baptist,” by the Carpi painter Saccaccino Saccaccini active in the first half of the 16th century, also author of the frescoes in the nearby Oratory of San Rocco, and the “Last Supper,” a delicate work attributed to a Bolognese area painter of the 16th century from the suppressed Monastery of the Dominican nuns. On the back wall, a large canvas with the “Mystical Marriage of St. Catherine of Siena,” titular of the church, enriches the interiors with luminous and delicate tones.
The Museum of Sacred Art of Fiumalbo intends to preserve not only a cultural heritage but also the social and anthropological dimension that is inherent in this community, which has always experienced the aggregative moment with great participation, finding in its historical religiosity an element of recognizability and cultural growth.