MONTEMAGNO
Church of San Vittore

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The historical documentation regarding the church and bell tower of San Vittore are very scarse but its surrounding area can, however, open up many plausible hypotheses of historical dynamics. The Roman remains can be stylistically compared with the foundations of other Romanesque Monferrato churches from the mid-twelfth century .
In the fifteenth century the Marquis of Monferrato heightened the importance of the castle and its village at the expense of the surrounding settlements and this centralization around the castle led to a progressive decline of the surroundings, including the settlement from which came the care and economic resources necessary for the maintenance of San Vittore.
The earliest record of the church is in the diocesan registry of 1345 in which it is recorded as being dependent on the Pieve of Grana and and as being one of the five churches of Montemagno, along with San Martino, San Cipriano, San Quirico and probably Santa Maria in the castle. With the creation of the Diocese of Casale in 1474 San Vittore was placed under new jurisdiction. At the end of the seventeenth century the church fell into disrepair, but was then completely restored at the beginning of the eighteenth century and was re-consecrated by the bishop on 13th November 1707. Only in 1796 do we witness the actual disappearance of the parish of San Vittore. Through its union with San Martino, the present parish, lost its parish rights and rapidly fell into decay. By 1896 the church was reduced to a ruin, completely devoid of nave, as we can see in a photograph taken by Secondo Pia in this year.
Only the apse, flanked by the bell tower, remains of this single nave Romanesque building. The bell tower is open at the bottom and in its north-west corner we can see a structural column built specifically as a result of the collapse of the vault in front of the presbytery. The remains of the internal structure are visible today, albeit devoid of the wooden stairs that were surely once present. However, the preservation of the building in the form of ruins allows for a reading of twelfth century building systems: large sandstone blocks cover up the wall fillings, so that perfect joint between the bricks and stone blocks can be appreciated. From a decorative point of view the apse is enlivened by two-tone brick pattern, by sandstone and by a row of hanging arches. The highest point of the tower is slightly different compared to the base where the masonry work seems to proceed from the apse. Large rectangular pilasters delimit the façades from which open first single windows and then proportionate mullioned windows. The elegant cornices are underlined by hanging bows and denti di sega decorative bands, both sculpted from the same block.
San Vittore reappears in documentation from 1929, the year in which the Superintendence of Monuments recorded substantial renovations to what remained of the building: the apse and the bell tower.
On the occasion of the Jubilee in the year 2000 major works were carried out including the consolidation of the brick column and re-roofing.

Bibliography

PITTARELLO L. (a cura di), Le chiese romaniche delle campagne astigiane. Un repertorio per la loro conoscenza, conservazione, tutela, Torino – Asti, Soprintendenza per i beni ambientali e architettonici del Piemonte – Provincia di Asti, 1984 (ed. 1998), pp. 129-133.
GALVAN C., Chiesa di San Vittore Montemagno, in a cura di, Osservatorio del Paesaggio, “Il paesaggio del romanico astigiano”, CRASTI, 2006, pp. 158-159.