The Church of Saints Faustino and Giovita (the external)


The church stands on a rise that overlooks the town, at the top of the neighbourhood called Castle. The naming of the church and its placement, so as the shape of the district and its denomination, consent to localize here the Court of the Monastery of Brescia dedicated to Saints Faustino and Giovita, the area of which was granted by Bishop Rambert in 1841.
In the twelfth century, it had a Castle, that is to say it was fortified and comprised a chapel dedicated to Saint Faustino. Over the following centuries, this chapel was enlarged and converted into a church, but being inadequate, it was finally replaced by the current building and inaugurated in 1646.
The new church accepted completely the orders issued by Cardinal Carlo Borromeo, in order to normalize and stabilize the structure of the churches, adapting them to the demands of the rituality and the counterreformation liturgy; in fact, it presents the typical structure with a classroom flanked by lateral chapels and a presbytery with apse. Its interior is richly decorated and furnished. The exterior is simple, plastered and lacking in decorations.
In its façade, within two niches are placed the statues of the two Saints, to whom the church is dedicated: Saints Faustino and Giovita, depicted as Roman soldiers with the crown of martyrdom. They are also portrayed next to the Virgin Mary in the fresco placed above the portal.
At the simple façade leans the portal of a typical sixteenth-century style with calculated and scenographic contrast.
The diversity of colour, material, shape, the rich decoration and the large size, prove and emphasize its symbolic pre-eminence. The portal uses the elements of ancient architecture (such as: columns, capitals, tympanum, etc.), that essentially unrelated to local tradition, had been introduced in the new churches because of their super-historic and absolute value. They are interpreted, according to the style of the century, with versions and imaginative solutions: the columns are not aligned, the tympanum is broken and the trabeation has exuberant reliefs with floral motifs and angels.
Here is significant the comparison with the portal of the Virgin Mary, which is characterized by simple and geometric shapes, by thin and discreet decorations, by the reduced visual and volumetric encumbrance. Two architectural conceptions meet each other and witness the social and religious shifts, which also involved Bienno in the seventeenth century.
The church is scenographically preceded by a cobbled churchyard on the embankment, occupied by rows of regular trees. It can be reached by a two flights staircase that is outwardly simple, the shape of which, however, implies a careful and precise planning. The first flight, which comes out from the wall, in fact, is a perfect negative of the second one, made inside the embankment: that is to say that the one is the negative of the other; one of them is filled and the other one is empty, so they are perfectly congruent.