The Sanctuary of the Blessed
Virgin of Consolation

The Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of Consolation is located on the west side of Prestine, on the old road going to Bienno and in a position that allows a complete view of the Valgrigna. The great artistic value is given not only by the frescoes attributed to Pietro from Cemmo and his school, but also by the extraordinary number of medieval churches concentrated in an area of five kilometres: in Esine (St. Mary received into Heaven), in Berzo Inferiore (Holy Trinity), in Bienno (St.Mary, St. Peter and Christ The King), in Prestine. The main structure of the Sanctuary was built in 1475, date engraved on a stone lunette on the fašade; the frescoes of the internal side walls and on the apse are dated to 1480. Other frescoes were likely to enrich the walls of the Sanctuary, but unfortunately they were lost as a large part of the interior was covered with a thick layer of lime in order to limitate the spread of the XVII century plague. In 1634 a flood destroyed almost completely the village, built mostly on the opposite side of the actual position. Also the Main Church and the churchyard, situated where the kindergarten stands now, were destroyed. The Church of the Blessed Virgin of Consolation, then called Our Lady of the Horn, became the Main Church. In fact, 1640 is the date you can see on the entrance door. Other objects are surely of the same period: the superior lunette, the side door, the marble balustrade and an altar of the apse. Also the sacristy was probably built in the same period, as you can understand from documents stating that "The Church of the Blessed Virgin then called of the Horn was used pro tempore and enlarged because too narrow". Moreover, the sacristy is leant against the apse wall, so it was built later. The external arch-door was built before 1718, as demonstrated by one of the frescoes adorning it. It is located between the building and the rock upwards which, until the '30s of last century, had kept an ancient wooden door and was the entrance to the village (you still can see the hinges). In the XVIII century there were other important changes, both in the architectonic structure and in the internal decorations. In fact, the bell tower was built starting from 1723. In the book-keeping papers there is a document in which Giuseppe Rizzi, Rector of Prestine's Parish, writes: "The building of the bell tower began with M.Francesco and M.Antonio Pedruzzi for 2,15 Lire per day, arriving almost until the roof of the Church. 18th May 1723". The initials engraved in the plaster inside the bell tower base would confirm the good result of the agreement. Also the tympanum of the main fašade, the internal decorations regarding the basin, the walls and the frontispiece of the presbytery seem to be dated to the XVIII century. In 1950 the Church underwent other important changes. Frescoes from the XV and XVI centuries were discovered, the marble grit floor was laid (probably on a previous stone slab floor) and the parvis was enlarged with the building of the wall. The last interventions of the years 1978-79 were about the realisation of the tile roof and the external cement plasters, while in 1997 a deep root was removed: it had lifted the floor and ruined a part of the building foundations.