CASTELNUOVO DON BOSCO
Church of Santa Maria of Rasetto
The Church of Santa Maria of Rasetto can be found halfway between Mondonio (a small village in the municipality of Castelnuovo Don Bosco) and Capriglio. Its location on a small hill, a little higher than the surrounding hills, allows one to view the surrounding, sloping hillsides covered by forests interrupted here and there by small fields and old farmhouses.
This single nave Romanesque building, retains its original structure on the façade: the arch of the main door is moon-shaped, made from blocks of sandstone interspersed with brick. Stone blocks make up two-thirds of the apse, but are then combined at its highest point with brick masonry. The apse is crowned by corbels and clay arches. Two small pilasters delimit the three panels typical of the apses of the Romanesque churches in Monferrato; in this case they are set on a high base due to the steep slope of the terrain. The sides seem to have been reconstructed with a brick masonry that came later than that of the apse and some of the cornice decorations have been reused.
In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries the boundaries of the diocese of Vercelli stretched to parts of dioceses now owned by Turin, Asti and Casale. Even Santa Maria di Rasetto, dependent on the parish of Pino, paid taxes to the bishop of Vercelli, until the middle of the fifteenth century. It is during this period that it was most likely partly rebuilt. At that time the interior of the church was covered with trusses and, in addition to the main altar, there was a rather non-descript “… altar of Meggio …” which, under the guidance of Bishop Carlo Montiglio in 1585, was removed. Subsequently the building’s decay accelerated and Rasetto was only used as a cemetery. The church even relinquished its title of Santa Maria to the parish of Mondonio, which became San Giacomo and Santa Maria.
During the mid eighteenth century, significant restoration works were carried out on the vault and the altar. The inscription on the triumphal arch “Virgo Maria cum San Grato, Apollonia, et fuit Lucia fuit anno 1761” confirms this. All saints were the subject of prayer in daily life, especially San Grato, protector of the fields and in particular of the vineyards, of which there were many in the area. Santa Apollonia was worshipped for relief from toothache and Saint Lucia for eye diseases.
One modern addition to the church may be the small portico attached to the facade, the date 1919 is engraved into one of the front steps. In the last years of the twentieth century the roof tiling was restored.
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. 88-90.
CAPPELLINO M. Chiesa di Santa Maria di Rasetto. Castelnuovo don Bosco in a cura di, Osservatorio del Paesaggio, “Il paesaggio del romanico astigiano”, CRASTI, 2006, p. 115.