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La Congrega

Updated: Apr 23, 2022

Since I was a child, a native of San Lorenzello (province of Benevento), I have known this church as "la Congrega” but its official name is Chiesa della Congregazione della Sanità. As reflected in the architecture style of the cupola (dome), it was built in the 1600s during the Baroque period at the foothills of Monterbano, an enchanting place very dear to me and to so many Laurentini who reside abroad, who all seem to be bonded by its call, "Monterbano's call!"

I love the sound of the bells of the Congrega but as I watched this video, something came over me.

My stare had fallen onto the bell tower of the church in need of repairs and a good paint job. It would be a pity, I thought, to let this courtly structure of Baroque architecture go to ruins. This prompted me to write this blog and bring awareness about this concern to those who care to make an effort and help restore the splendor this historic church once had.

Video of La Congrega, courtesy of Concetta R., San Lorenzello (BN). Grazie, carissima!

The Baroque period started in Italy in the17th century as a response to the religious tensions between the Catholic Church and the Protestant houses of worship proliferating all over Europe. The expansion of foreign trade saw the growth of a new middle class, which brought new life into the artistic culture that until then had been influenced by one class only, the nobility and its capricci (whims), desires and sfarzosa (opulent) lifestyle and those of the courts and the Church.

The culture of Baroque was designed to manipulate the masses through imagery, contrasts and drama. Fearing to lose influence during the so-called Protestants' Counter-Reformation movement and to attract new faithful and worshippers, the Catholic Church created a style that would dramatize emotions reflected in architecture, music, art, paintings with techniques like Caravaggio’s strokes of contrast—chiaroscuro— (light and shade) that would capture and display an eye for beauty, wealth and power.

Eventually, the dramatic religious tensions between Catholics and Protestants came to an end. Around 1720 a new predominant artistic culture took life tracing its roots in France--the Rococo or referred to by some scholars as Late Baroque--reflecting a much more ornamental, entertaining and theatrical style and thus creating an illusion to captivate elegance, curvy movements and drama displayed in architecture, music, painting, frescoes and art decor.

This image of the floor in one area of the Congrega displays the arte laurentina (Art of San Lorenzello) reflected in the maioliche tiles (type of ceramic) of the Baroque period.

Video of the bell tower, courtesy of Lucia B. (San Lorenzello, BN). Thank you, my friend!

Images of La Congrega, courtesy of Lee DeMilo. ©All rights reserved.

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