Saint Stephen Parish
5.00 pm (at the Micro Community Center)
6.30 pm (hamlet of Chevrot)
Visits to the Chapel of Sainte-Marie-Magdeleine
Visiting hours: from July 21 2005 to August 27 2005 – 3.30 pm to 6.30 pm every Thursday and Saturday.
The church of Sainte-Marie-Magdeleine, better known as “the chapel of La Magdeleine” was built in the XII century and was administered by the Chapter of the Cathedral of Aosta which also used to appoint its vicar. The western part of the present territory of Gressan was then under the jurisdiction of this church. From the XIV to the XVI century the parish of La Magdeleine lived through great political and economical prosperity. In those centuries, when about 150 souls forming 14 families lived on its territories, the noble family La Tour de Villa, thanks to its power and prestige, had the church rebuilt and endowed it with new frescoes. In 1786 the parish of Sainte-Marie-Magdeleine was included into the parish of Santo Stefano; since then the church has been confined to the role of chapel.
The building consists of a nave with apse and a XII century pure Romanesque bell tower supported by a two-century-old spur. The nave was extended in 1460. The church façade, on the west side of the building, is completely covered in frescoes depicting: the Mass of St. Gregory when, from the chest of Christ appearing to the saint, some blood spilled to fill a chalice on the altar; St. George fighting the dragon; a majestic portrait of St. Christopher about to start wading through the water while carrying the Infant Christ on his shoulder and, lower right, the figures of St. Martha, St. Mary Magdalene and St Lazarus. The frescoes, dated 1463, are attributed to the painter Giacomo d’Ivrea.
The paintings decorating the apse and the underside of the arch separating the choir from the nave were brought to light in 1938 after they had been lying under a layer of lime and cement for several centuries. They also have been attributed to Giacomo d’Ivrea.
The vault of the apse is completely decorated with a fresco showing the Blessing Christ surrounded by the four Evangelists’ symbols. On the apse walls are represented the twelve Apostles while on the underside of the arch are fourteen panels depicting the legend of Saint Mary Magdalene. The previous works of art were due to the generous patronage of Boniface de la Tour.
The Treasure Museum of Aosta Cathedral hosts some objects belonging to the church of Sainte-Marie-Magdeleine: a beautiful gilded crucifix dating to the XII century bearing a crowned Christ on relief; a polychrome statue representing Mary as Mater felicis partus dating from the XVII century; a great XVI century carved and painted wooden crucifix.