Shrine of Our Lady of the Castle
Shrine of Our Lady of the Castle

In 1750, as a sign of devotion to the Immaculate Conception, the community of Carpenedolo began the construction of a new shrine on the site of the monastery of San Pietro in Monte (Saint Peter in the Mountain). This ancient monastery was probably of episcopal origin: according to tradition, Bishop Silvino retreated there and was buried when he died around the middle of the 5th century; later he was canonized.
In the 15th century, Giacomo Malvezzi wrote that this building was renovated by King Desiderius during the Lombard period, while another document dates the renewal of the church back to the early 13th century.

Once, in this area there was also the Castle of Carpenedolo, probably built by the Lombards, with a chapel annexed. The fortress was destroyed in 1413 along with the village: anyway, the inhabitants remained devoted to that shrine, represented in a fifteenth-century fresco, later walled up in the apse of the new church. The construction of the eighteenth- century shrine was possible thanks to the alms collected among the faithful of Carpenedolo, so generous that only ten years after the beginning of works, it was possible to celebrate the first mass, while in 1766, there was the last request of funds to complete the construction.

Unfortunately, the designer of this building is never mentioned in the documents of that time: however, almost unanimously, the critics believe the designer was Giovan Battista Marchetti, a renowned architect who worked both in Brescia and in the province.
Lately, another hypothesis has come forward. In the shrine there is the tomb of Girolamo Callegari, that the documents refer to as the " site engineer ", but who can be considered the designer of the building if we believe a phrase carved on a nineteenth-century tombstone decorating the grave to be historically reliable: "... leronimi Callegari, huius templi praefecti ...".

The plan of the basilica is based on two crosses lined up, the largest one facing east. In the middle, four groups of columns support the arches, on which the polygonal dome cladding rests, with some gabled windows which cast light inside, in every direction. In the chancel the space narrows and it widens towards the chorus. The impressive staircase to the sanctuary was built later than the rest of the building: it dates back to 1779 and replaces the drawbridge and the door of the Castle.

The Church, consecrated in 1839, underwent several restoration interventions for its maintenance. In 1928-29 the painters Vittorio and Giuseppe Trainini from Brescia completed the decoration of the ceiling. The transformation of the room next to the shrine into a museum is more recent. Here there are works from the parish church and sacred objects of different origin: for example, the painting representing St Lawrence with the Saints John the Baptist and Peter, signed by "Camillus" and maybe attributable to Camillo Procaccini.
The sculptural decoration inside the shrine is remarkable and includes the complex of the ciborium: located behind the altar, it is composed of four groups of columns, surmounted by an entablature and adorned with statues of angels and of the four cardinal virtues. The sculptor is "Andrea Solarius" who engraved his name on a stucco behind the altar, even if we have no precise information about his life.

Among the many fine paintings that adorn the shrine, there is the Blessed Virgin Mary and her Son painted by Pietro Ricchi, called "Lucchese", in the second half of the 17th century and now located on the high altar. Next to the altar, there are also two important works, painted by Francesco Maffei around 1647: the Nativity and the Visitation.