The Bell Tower
The Bell Tower

The statue of St. Bartholomew

Is it the statue of Saint Bartholomew or of another Saint that has been recently restored, located at half height of the bell tower in Carpenedolo? Some doubts arose during the restoration. A notarial deed of  March 14, 1746, discovered by the writer 22 years ago, is useful to remove all doubt or better to confirm what we already know.

But first some historical information. The "new tower", as it was called by the inhabitants of Carpenedolo, was built because the previous bell tower, located next to the old Parish Church (the works of a new church began on  April 1, 1693, at 2 p.m.), was knocked down in 1720, since it was unsafe.

On January 2, 1726, priests Giorgio Corradini and Andrea Boselli, charged by the municipality with the task of building a new tower for the population, bought a house at a cost of 850 lire, from the brothers Carlo and Giacomo Carlotti and Stefano Scovoli, near the parish church, bordering on the road to the North, South and East, on the property of Antonio Fontana to the West.

The monk and architect Paolo Soratini (1680-1764) began to build the tower, with the approval of the entire population, which, for several years, contributed towards its cost with alms, lime and bricks offer, sale of grain and other agricultural products, garments and linen yarn by women in the stables, during winter, to be sold in the nearby Salò, a town renowned for this product.

With a deed of notary Ottavio Ventura, dated October 17th, 1735, the priests Giacomo Bonati and Francesco Tessadri appointed attorney Agostino Salò, giving him the authority to take legal action to demand payment from Andrea Astolfi from Salò, who owed 100 lire, for a stock of yarn. They needed this money to cope with the expenses of the tower.

Some years later, the building of the bell tower was finished and Michele Piamarta started the lead coating of the dome. At that time, he was a famous and valued artisan from Brescia, but today he has become unknown. He worked at the dome of the bell tower of Capriano del Colle, in Lonato and even at the roofing of the great domes of the Church of Our Lady of Peace in Brescia (1739-1740), of the Oratorian priests.

The coating of the bell tower of Carpenedolo risked remaining incomplete, with serious damages to the supporting structure, made of wood, since it was difficult to get financial resources.

On  July 17th, 1743 (acts of notary Orazio Ventura) don Francesco Tessadri and don Giacomo Bonati, in extreme need of money to complete the coating of the dome, instructed don Bernardino Mancabelli to borrow 850 lire from the chantry Corradini, at an annual interest of 3.50%, to pay the work of Michele Piamarta from Brescia. The debt was to be paid off within five years, in two instalments, which the priests thought they could pay with alms.

The coating of the tower was accomplished, but the last instalment was still to be paid off. It is at this point that the statue of St Bartholomew comes into play, almost treated like a swap for a final agreement, but also as a perfect seal of an artwork, which had been long and laborious. The priests responsible for the construction of the tower tried to get one last discount from Piamarta, reminding him of the primitive arrangements verbally made with him, through an affidavit made by three witnesses, Francesco and Bernardo Franzoni and Stefano Bergamaschi, before the notary Francesco Tessadri on March 14th, 1746. The worker promised to accommodate Carpenedolo, with the free lead covering of the statue of St. Bartholomew.

The Act of  March 14th, 1746 shows the times and terms of the previous agreement between the priests and Piamarta. What happened? Probably in 1742-1743, they verbally agreed to coat the dome. Later, on September 20th, 1743 (the works had already started), they made an affidavit before the three witnesses mentioned above, where, however, the previous verbal agreement was not mentioned.

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