I was uploading some photos for this blog and I came across a few I took one afternoon last september while walking through town with my daughter. It was one of those walking we usually have to discover places of our hometown we never visited before. This is the case with the Church of San Vitale……….
The 17th century church of San Vitale is found in the very centre near the Town Hall and piazza Garibaldi.
Its present form is in the Latin cross, with only one nave ending in a large presbytery surmounted by a Vignola-type dome and completed with ten chapels divided by mixed order pillars, which are by the architect Cristoforo Rangoni called Ficarelli.
Domenico Valmagini reinforced the dome in 1676.
The elegant façade divided into two orders is by the sculptor Felice Pascetti and is embellished with six statues attributed to Pietro Sbravati showing above St. Vital and St. Valeria , his bride, his children under the external sides, Saints Jervis and Protase, and in the niches towards the centre there is St. Gregory Magnum and St. Ambrose.
On the interior, the urn under the main altar preserves St. Vital’s body that had been brought in 1648 from Rome by Gherardo III of Sissa.
The painted decorations in the presbytery, dated at 1760, are by Antonio Betti, a native of Reggio-Emilia, while the paintings showing Episodes of St. Vital’s life are by the Parma-native Giuseppe Peroni in 1763.
Special attention must be paid to the stuccowork furnishings, the only kind in Parma and among the most magnificent examples of Baroque relief decoration in the Emilia region. Also noteworthy is the chapel dedicated to the Holy Virgin of Constantinople or the Virgin of Deliverance, done in 1669 by Leonardo and Domenico Reti.
The side chapels allow one to discover important but undervalued treasures that make St. Vital one of the richest places in Parma, where from the 1600s until the first half of the 1800s, it continued to promote new works of art and new altar vestments.
There is a Holy Virgin of Caravaggio by the Lombard artist Giuseppe Nuvolone, the Martyrdom of St. John Nepumoceo of Pietro Rubini (mid-18th century) and the canvas of the Sacrifice of Isaac by an anonymous artist close to Lionello Spada. Moreover, the church owns various paintings of 19th century Parma academic artists, such as the large painting of St. Gregory who prays for the souls in Purgatory by Giovanni Tibaldi, the Assumption by Giovanni Gaibazzi and the canvases by Matteo Rusca, Latino Barilli and Donnino Pozzi