As previously underlined, it was in ‘Franciscan environment’ and in
particular with Observants work that the phenomenon of Sacred Mounts started and developed. Begun in the end of XV century with the New Jerusalem and continued with the building of other complexes, took concrete form what some historians consider a conscient
and aimed project of making mountains holy. The mount is holy and the Holy‘s favourite stage is the mount itself.
We don’t completely agree with the statement attributing Sacred Mounts phenomenon to the combination of Council of Trent’s
Counter-reformation dictates with the pastoral and planning work of Cardinal Borromeo, but we have still to consider that such a huge
quantity of documents concerning Sacred Mounts construction, written in the course of centuries, can’t be only owed to the simple wish
or intuition of a single person, then emulated by others. No doubts that, from an historical viewpoint and for what landscape,
art and devotion are concerned, it has been a remarkable fact that has to be considered in its whole and not as the mere succession
of single local realizations just for popular use.
Every so-called Fabbriceria, building leading unit, still preserves in its Archives letters, petitions, contracts of work, payments
receipts, religious and civil Authorities’ decrees, projects, prints, devotional books and guides. These documents demostrate that
each complexe invention, planning and realization were regulated by precise rules, which meant the presence of a common routine procedure,
of a general direction and of a higher supervision carried out locally with rigour and care. The iconographies shown in this
exhibition section underline social, religious and above all testimonial aspects of the different historic representations.
These are generally bird’s eye view-illustrations included in devotional books, concerning the whole already built complexe, according
to the original project. There are many illustrations of the Sacred Mount of Varallo Sesia, the one that suffered the biggest changes
(from New Jerusalem to Sacred Mount). These views clearly describe, in chronological order, complexes’ changes, additions and
rebuildings according to the modified plannings sequence and are generally made for precise divulging aims, more than for useful
or esthetic ones.
There isn’t such sequence of illustrations for Sacred Mounts that have not been changed in the course of time, for them then
the same picture (maybe drawn again) is as a planning document which follows the life of the Sacred Mount since its project,
as happened for example for the Sacred Mount of Varese.