Chapel of Saint Nicolò

Chapel of Saint Nicolò   ,   Strada Provinciale 52   ,   17057   Bardineto   (SV)   Italy


The church of Saint Nicolò is located southwest of the present town of Bardineto, developed over time around the Castle and the Medieval Village, located on the last offshoot of the buttress of Nicampi, Bassa dei morti and Mugliane.

It is easily reachable arriving from the Provincial Road 52 for the Colle of Scravaiòn, climbing up the path that climbs to the left, just after the bridge over the Rio Saint Giovanni and which also leads to the renowned source of Saint Nicolò called Fons salutis.
From the above mentioned Fons Salutis flows a very pure water.

The current appearance of the church is the result of various structural changes over the centuries. In particular, three main construction phases can be recognized: early medieval, romanesque, late medieval period.

It is not known with certainty if the paintings are attributable to the hand of Antonio from Monteregale, in any case it is worth a visit!

The remains of the walls to which the central apse is leaning would belong to a primitive early medieval church, a part of the primitive structure of the church of Saint Giovanni, mentioned in the act of donation made by Charlemagne to the Abbey of Saint Pietro in Varatella or, more likely, at the Byzantine-Longobard Castrum of which some ruins remain, such as the tower, in the plateau above the church.

The apses
Erected immediately after the year 1000, according to the date proposed by Lamboglia, it was probably originally structured on three small naves, with semicircular apses, and as many round openings on the facade: there was a central door, the current window on the right, and two lateral single lancet windows, the current left window and the current entrance door; at the Romanesque age it is probably also referable the brick floor.
They certainly date back to the late medieval period, probably to the fifteenth century to which the frescoes are also attributed, the interventions of reduction of the church to a single nave, with the enlargement of the interior space, motivated by the likely demographic increase, and the remaking of the central square-shaped apse, with the isolation of the only right apse, still left.

Previous restorations
The Church of Saint Nicolò was declared a national monument in 1906; three years later it has already been the object of a first intervention. of restoration, by some technicians of the Commission for the conservation of ancient monuments of Liguria and Piedmont, in the course of which a cavity was erected along the south-east side, with the elimination of the embankment that leaned against it to the wall that reached the height of the slits, also building a wall to support the escarpment; the slits were reopened and the foundations were under-walled; a wall was also demolished that closed left and right the square-shaped apse.
Thus was brought to light the small semicircular apse that had internally on the wall, painted in red, two wheels and which was later covered with stone slabs in accordance with the roof of the church.
A second restoration, carried out by the technicians of the Superintendence of Genoa in the years 1951, 1952, provides for the restoration of the roof and the cleaning of the frescoes; the roof, which had already been worked on from time to time in 1926, in 1935 and 1937, was raised with a concrete base above the planks, in order to eliminate the infiltration of moisture, which had deteriorated the frescoes; the latter, already cleaned in 1930 by Amilcare Oggerini, were restored by Zanfrognini between July 1951 and August 1952.

The ancient parish
Throughout the late Middle Ages and the first centuries of the modern age, St. Nicholas was the parish church of Bardineto.
As attested by the "Register of the Church and Bishop of Albenga" of 1325, studied and printed by Don Giovanni Conterno, it is included in the Plebanìa of Priero, which was then part of the Diocese of Alba, of which Bardineto was also part until 1814, when it passed to the diocese of Mondovì while an ad limina visit of 1577 attests its passage to the parish of Millesimo.
In the Statutes of 1479 is mentioned for its function as a cemetery church; in the section Di fare honore alli defunti . it is established that " vinti persone delle più vicine siano obligate portar a accompagniar detto defonto fino alla chiesa di S. Nicolao e sepelirlo con debito modo. "
At the end of the XVI century a new church was erected in the Borgo, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, that corresponded to to the current Oratory of Saint Carlo and the Assumption, which in fact became the new parish church, despite Saint Nicolò continued to be so by right.
Thanks to three pastoral visits, of 1573, 1591 and 1612, and to the already mentioned ad limina visit of 1577, it is possible to document this particular situation of double ownership, which will continue throughout the seventeenth century.
Already in 1573 it is specified that in the church of St. John the Baptist, located in the village, sacred services are celebrated, and administered the sacraments, i.e. concretely the prerogatives of the parish church have already been transferred, by right, still belong to the parish church which is under the title of Saint Nicolò.
This happened for reasons of comfort: the church of Saint Nicolò it is about 1500 meters from the village, (in the Visit of 1577 it was spoken of 300 steps from the country, in that of 1621 it is defined outside the country), therefore, it poses concrete logistical problems, positioned as it is above that mountain and in a state of abandonment, so much so that the Bishop orders the door to be repaired and fitted with a lock.
Even his cemetery needs urgent protective work; in fact it must be equipped with a stone belt, so that neither wolves nor dogs or other animals can enter, because it maintains to all intents and purposes the function of cemetery church.

The last interventions
The works requested by the bishop in 1573 have not yet been carried out in 1577: the cemetery is still waiting for the fence. and the church needs to be kept tightly closed and tidy again. It continues to serve as a cemetery church and to maintain officially the title of parish church, although the care of souls is now fully transferred to the church of St. John the Baptist, which, however, is not yet consecrated.
Same situation we find in 1591 and 1612, with Saint Nicolò parish church of law, but always struggling with problems of maintenance and restoration and St. John the Baptist in which, for the comfort of the people, the care of souls and administration is exercised of the sacraments.
In all the acts of Baptism of the XVII century, the parish priests of Bardineto continue to define themselves as Rectors of the parish church. of St. John the Baptist or St. Nicolò it is likely, therefore, that the double ownership will continue throughout the seventeenth century and only comes to an end with the consecration of the new and larger parish church of St. John the Baptist, built near the previous one, which took place on June 24th in 1720.

Curiosity :
In Ciglié, in the Langa in the province of Cuneo, there is a chapel dedicated to St. George that reproduces a fresco of the saint, which could be called the photocopy of what is in the chapel of Saint Nicolò.


(*Internet site of the parishes of the upper Bormida valley


Church of Saint Nicolò
17057 - Strada Provinciale 52 - Bardineto
(SV) Italy