Regione Piemonte

Collegiate Church of S. Elena

Address: Via Roma, 65, 14018 Villafranca d'Asti AT, Italia

Parish church after the demolition of the Romanesque church of S. Maria di Musanzia.

It was built in the seventeenth century. Inside is preserved the precious canvas depicting the Madonna d'Oropa, a work created in 1651.

The Collegiate Church of S. Elena, now a parish church, was built in the current baroque lines at the behest of Mons. Giacomo Goria, incorporating an earlier chapel already documented in 1556 and belonging to the Community of Villafranca.

In 1645, the bishop made a substantial donation to establish an Opera Pia in Villafranca and also decreed the construction of the church entrusting the project to Amedeo di Castellamonte.

The work to expand the site and build the current church, under the direction of Francesco Garvi, last from 1646 to 1652, the year in which it is blessed. In the following decade the interior was completed: in 1666 Giovanni Luca Corbellini created the recently restored stuccoes of the virtues, and in 1671, the centenary of the birth of Msgr. Goria, the church is solemnly consecrated.

The façade was completed in 1679 by the plasterer Giacomo Soleri on a design by Castellamonte, and finally, in 1686, the high altar was laid out, attributable to Tommaso Carlone.

Valuable works adorn the interior. The high altar is in polychrome marble and on the gables “interposed” of its doors appear the busts, in white marble, representing S. Eusebio and S. Elena. At the top, on the choir, stands the canvas desired by the founder depicting the Madonna d'Oropa at whose sides are the figures of St. Elena and St. Eusebio and, kneeling in prayer, Mgr Goria.

In the four lateral altars, recently restored, we can observe: on the first altar on the right, a 17th-century wooden “Crucifixion”, with S. Giovanni and the Holy Virgin, of great dramatic intensity; on the second altar there is a painting representing S. Carlo Borromeo in the act of venerating the Shroud; at the first altar on the left is the canvas depicting Saint Francesco di Assisi receiving the stigmata, a work attributed to the famous painter Guglielmo Caccia known as Il Moncalvo or to his school; at the second altar the canvas of the Assumption.

The fine wooden baptistery of the Baroque period is lateral, with a marble pedestal. In the sacristy is preserved the original pulpit of the church, which shows the insignia of the Goria family.