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The Anglican church of the Ascension

The Anglican church dedicated to the Ascension is located in the hamlet of Maiolica and was built from 1890 on a project by the young architect Giuseppe Brentano using different elements typical of fifteenth-century Lombard architecture.

Inaugurated on 4 November 1891 on the occasion of the Feast of the Ascension and subsequently consecrated in September of the same year, it was the first Anglican church in Italy, built to meet the needs of worship of the flourishing English community that settled in Griante at the end of the 1800s.

In order to respond to a precise request from the client for harmonious integration with the typical features of the place, the church takes up various elements of 15th-century Lombard architecture such as the rose window, the pinnacles and the hanging arches in the underside of the gorge and, above all, it also highlights the scanning of the transversal arches from the outside.

The façade is preceded by an elegant prothyrum under which there is a sculpted lunette representing the Resurrection. On the sides are two mosaic panels depicting the scene of the Annunciation.

The interior of the church has a very rich dress that includes a monochrome decoration in the upper band with geometric motifs and figures of angels on the walls and the scene of the Ascension on the arch of the presbytery under which are placed three statues representing the Crucifixion.

The church’s furnishings are completed by the marble pulpit, the elegant ciborium and the mosaic in the apse’s basin. Not far from here, at the beginning of Via Roma, which goes up to the historic centre of Griante, there is the small church of S. Giuseppe, preceded by a short staircase.

The Anglican church dedicated to the Ascension is located in the hamlet of Maiolica and was built from 1890 on a project by Giuseppe Brentano, a young and brilliant architect and pupil of Camillo Boito and Luca Beltrami, born in Milan from a family originally from Tremezzina and known above all as the winner of the competition for the facade of the Duomo of Milan in 1888 with a project in neo-Gothic style.

The church of Griante was built on the initiative of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel on land donated by Heathcote Long. The drawings and letters preserved document that Brentano was still working on the project a few weeks before his death on 31 December 1889 and the construction was therefore completed only later under the supervision of the engineer Luigi Brentano, the deceased’s uncle. Initially the church was to have been built in the park of the Hotel Belle Vue, but in the end an area inside the garden of Villa Norella was preferred, which had been considered more suitable by the architect.

Construction work began in 1890 and the church was inaugurated on November 4, 1891 on the occasion of the Feast of the Ascension with a solemn ceremony and later consecrated in September of the same year. However, the completion work also continued in the following years.

In 1892 the construction of the prothyrum began, completed in 1893, and in 1895 the pulpit was probably begun, completed in 1896, carried out on a project by Virginio Muzio, also author of a project for the decoration of the door in which was inserted a bas-relief completed in 1898 by the sculptor Paolo Sozzi, already engaged with Muzio in a project for the central door of the Duomo of Milan.

The two mosaic panels on the façade were made by the Englishman Murchison, while the gilded mosaics in the apse were completed between 1915 and 1927. Although it is a posthumous work, the building has maintained the characteristics of Brentano’s project, which in this case seems to have been inspired not so much by the neo-Gothic style as by the “Lombard” style and the model of the single nave churches with transverse arches, a model particularly widespread in the Como area.

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