OF SAN LORENZO
The mystery of Segnorino's Tombstone
San Lorenzo is one of the historic churches of Bobbio , currently employed by the parish of San Colombano, which stands in the historic center of the city, within the area between the Abbey of San Colombano and Piazza del Duomo.
The building stands alongside Piazza Santa Fara , behind the monastic complex of San Colombano, a short distance from the arcades of the Contrada Castellaro .
The sources and historical documents that have come down to us regarding the Church of San Lorenzo are rather sparse. The first information on the existence of the building dates back to 1144, and attests to the consecration of the church, while those relating to its foundation and construction are missing. Probably, however, it was erected on the ruins of an older building, certainly prior to the year 1150.
What is certain is the bond between the church and the Abbey, an aspect that is easily understood since it was built - in practice - within the walls of the monastery. Only in 1950, this architectural link was broken, following the creation and arrangement of the square of Santa Fara.
Another historical reference is the one that dates back to the thirteenth century, in which it is reported that San Lorenzo was entrusted to the Order of the Battuti , also called Disciplinati, a lay brotherhood which in turn depended on the Order of San Colombano, and whose main activity was that of assistance to the sick.
In 1448, then, the Order of San Colombano was dissolved, in its place the Benedictine monks took over, and then the community of San Lorenzo came under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Bobbio. However, in 1609 the church was abandoned because it was unsafe, to then be enlarged and rededicated in 1649. In 1779 the bell tower was remodeled and elevated, but in harmony with the original structures and plans.
In 1803, in the Napoleonic era, the brotherhood was dissolved, as happened to the many religious orders of the city, and the buildings were confiscated. Later, the church was once again used for worship.
Visit to San Lorenzo
The facade of the Church of San Lorenzo was built in Romanesque style, in stone divided into three parts by Doric pilasters. In its upper part there are two closed side windows and a central one, square in shape, with a glass window that gives light inside. The Portal dates back to 1622, while the Baroque bell tower culminates in an elevated structure, with a characteristic polygonal shape with ovals and a cone roof.
In the lower part, the remains of the oldest church are visible, while on the right external wall there are two tombstones, also from the building on which it was built. One of the tombstones shows a small cross with dovetail tips. The other, the more "mysterious" one, on the other hand, has a large cross and the following inscription:
MCCLXXXX OBERTUS DE SIGNORINO FECIT
HANC CRUCEM FIERI
This is the so-called Tombstone of Segnorino , a character whose identity is lost in the mists of history, of which practically nothing is known, and who is suspected of being a knight, perhaps a Templar, who joined the Confraternity who worked at the church of Saint Lawrence.
On the other hand, there are indications that would suggest a Bobbio that was the home of the Knights Templar 's homes, and some scholars indicate in a picture of the Last Supper, present in the Cathedral of Maria Assunta, a possible reference to the Knights and their tradition .
The interior of San Lorenzo is structured on a single nave with a barrel vault. The semicircular apse houses a wooden choir dating from the seventeenth century, in turn coming from the Monastery of San Francesco. On the bottom stands a large painting of the Martyrdom of San Lorenzo.
On the sides of the nave, placed in correspondence of the large arches, there are some paintings that represent, among other things, the Apparition of Christ to the Apostles, the Blessed Virgin with Saints, the Christ Child in front of San Sebastiano and San Francesco. In addition, a large fifteenth-century statue of the Madonna is visible, once exhibited in the Museum of the Abbey of San Colombano. On the sides of the nave there are three windows with the task of illuminating the environment.
Piazza Santa Fara
Adjacent to the Church of San Lorenzo, the one dedicated to Santa Fara is a beautiful square that stands in the heart of the historic center of Bobbia, in front of the Abbey of San Colombano. One side of the square is closed by a portico and by a long corridor leading to the Basilica and the Museums, with an enchanting cloister.
In the area of the current squares, during the excavation work for its construction, some Capuchin tombs were found, with engraved "hieroglyphics" and other incomprehensible signs on them. Burials of the same kind, then, were also discovered during the works for the construction of the Palazzo Nuovo, also called Palazzo Fontana .
On the other side, however, stands the ancient Church of the Madonna delle Grazie , with the ancient hospital and the monastic pharmacy of the ninth century, which in 1905 was transformed into a cinema, to then become a hostel.
The activity of the hospital was of great importance for the whole region, thanks to the medical and pharmacological knowledge of the monks, in addition to the exploitation of the thermal springs present in the region, especially the sulphurous waters, which were used for antiseptic purposes by inhalations and baths.
Not far away are the Ex Prisoners of Bobbio , which were operational within the monastery complex of the Monastery of San Colombano, in the oldest part, the one dating back to the 9th century, reserved until the 15th century for the monks' cells.
The building also includes an underground part, used by the director as one of the main settings of his film Blood of my blood. The ancient prisons are not currently open to visitors, but their history and presence still have the merit of contributing to that urban narrative that allows you to relive the history of the village back to the ninth century.
The current configuration of the square dates back to 1950, when the monastery wall was demolished, where the gardens, the vegetable garden and the ancient monastic well stood, which was distinguished by its true Roman origin, now preserved in the courtyard of the Gardens located in front of the Porticato and Palazzo Fontana. A part of the ancient wall is still visible in the back of the Palazzo, inside the courtyard of the historic Palazzo Barone, recently restored to its original splendor, and also in Via del Pozzo.
The square is dedicated, therefore, to Santa Fara , which as a child got to know San Colombano as hosted by her parents, after being kicked out by Queen Brunechilde, and from whom she was baptized. Once raised, Fara decided to enter a convent of the Colombian Rule, later becoming abbess of the Faremoutiers Abbey in 627.
This large city space welcomes the Saturday morning market, and numerous festivals and events, the Ferragosto concert, the “Cori da Osteria” festival, as well as the food and wine evenings. The Porticato also hosts the "Literature Week", with an interesting program of presentations, meetings with the authors and a book market.
Ireland in Music
Piazza di San Colombano has been hosting “Ireland in Music” for years, the festival whose aim is to celebrate the strong bond that unites Bobbio to the emerald island, where San Colombano was born. The Saint, in fact, was born in the city of Bangor, now twinned with Bobbio , and arrived in the village in the distant 614, at the end of a very long journey. And here he died, shortly after his arrival, but leaving the city with a truly impressive heritage of traditions and legends.
This festival dedicated to Celtic music has an international scope, and does not fail to attract hundreds of tourists and fans every year. In each edition, the main European exponents of Celtic folk - from the United Kingdom but also from Spain and France - take turns on the stage reinforcing the thread that has linked Bobbio to distant Ireland for over fifteen hundred years.
Next to the musical one, then, there is also the gastronomic festival, which revolves around Irish beers. The stands, managed by the restaurants in the area, offer meat specialties and, inevitably, fried dumplings.