Basilica of Corpus Domini

Turin, Italy

The Basilica of Corpus Domini was built to celebrate the 'Miracle of the Eucharist' which, according to various sources, occurred in 1453 during the war between the Duchy of Savoy and France.

The event which led to the construction of the church occurred on 6 June 1453 during the war between Louis of Savoy and France. A group of French soldiers had plundered the main church in Exilles, a town in the Val di Susa. On 6 June, the day of the Feast of Corpus Christi, they went to Turin to sell the booty. The donkey which transported the sacramental bread from the Exilles' church fell on the ground and the Holy Spirit rose and illuminated the square from the air.

To celebrate the event, the painting of the Holy Name of Jesus was painted on the four gates of the city but this was deemed insufficient, and in 1509 a small chapel was soon commissioned on the present church's site. However, nothing was built until 1521, when Innocenzo Cybo, Archbishop of Turin, ordered the construction of a small oratory by Matteo Sanmicheli. This was demolished in 1607 to make room to the modern basilica.

The design of the new church was commissioned to Ascanio Vitozzi. Amedeo di Castellamonte collaborated in the designing of the façade. Works began in 1607. In 1753 king Charles Emmanuel III of Savoy commissioned Benedetto Alfieri to restore the interior decoration and to ornament it with stuccoes.

The church has a massive façade, with six pilasters and four columns supporting the entablature, in typical Baroque style. It is completed by statue of angels and saints by Bernardo Falconi, dating to the late 17th century.

The interior has a single nave, and was largely renewed in the 18th century. The high altar is the original one, created by Francesco Lanfranchi in 1664. The interior also houses a slab marking the exact place of the miracle.



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Founded: 1607
Category: Religious sites in Italy

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User Reviews

Damjan Sano (18 months ago)
Beautiful. Must see.
Tetiana Bogdanova (18 months ago)
Beautiful ?
DAVID SNYDER (4 years ago)
Beautiful church.
James Kildea (5 years ago)
Very nice
Mario Falzon (5 years ago)
East of Piazza Castello on Via Palazzo di Citta stands the votive Basilica of Corpus Domini, a Baroque place of worship that despite its polluted facade and oppressively dusty furnishings is still considered as one of Ascanio Vittozzi’s architectural masterpieces. Extending over a corner between two medieval streets that lead to the town’s Municipio, the Church of Corpus Domini is a 16th-century single-nave temple with two side chapels and an artistic sandstone facade, neatly divided into three by decorative friezes sculpted in the stonework. The colonnaded doorway on the lower section is flanked by a pair of niches that house the statues of St Charles Borromeo and St Francis of Sales. Another pair of similar niches decorate the upper section where a wonderful arched window takes pride of place. A roof pediment complete with pointed turrets, a central coat-of-arms and an unreadable (read: heavily polluted) panelled inscription crowns the top. The high altar sculpted out of polychrome marble is an impressive gem but unfortunately marred as a result of the lack of light in the nave. Two pairs of spiral Corinthian columns, painted black and gilded, support the choir vault behind the high altar. Look at the richly decorated tribune suspended above the altar. It is a gilded piece of embroidered craftwork inlaid with semi-precious stones and surrounded with an ornate gilded frame. Visitors usually come here to inquire into the veracity of the legend linked to this church: the Eucharistic Miracle of 1453. It is said that on the feast day of Corpus Domini, a stolen monstrance that contained a consecrated host remained suspended in midair exactly on the spot where the church was later built. Inside the church, mementoes associated with this miracle have been preserved and some are on display. A plaque dating back to the first half of the 18th century narrates the story in brief while a painting (by Bartolomeo Caravoglia) depicting the miracle takes centre stage in the nave. Check out the ceiling frescoes and amidst a profusion of gilded frames and stucco, you can follow step by step the various stages of the legendary miracle. Before you step out of the church, look at the preserved monstrance behind glass on the left side of the nave near the main door. Locals say it is the original receptacle that contained the miraculous host.
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