Lucca, restoration of the Oratory of the Guardian Angels ends: the Baroque jewel now reopens to the public

After three years of work, the restoration of the Oratory of the Guardian Angels in Lucca ends, and now the building reopens to the public.

TheOratory of the Guardian Angels, a Baroque jewel that underwent restoration work that began in 2017 and was funded by the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Lucca, has been reopened in Lucca. The small sacred building, located in Via dell’Angelo Custode, near the Guinigi Tower, was built in 1638, in just six months (although completion with finishing touches continued in 1639), based on a design by architect Vincenzo Paoli: the commission was given to him by the Congregation of the Guardian Angel, founded by the religious Bonaventura Guasparini, who wanted to make the oratory a cultural and educational center, as well as a religious one. The oratory, in fact, hosted a musical season that began on October 28 each year and ended on the following Maundy Thursday, and received subsidies from the Republic of Lucca (these were musical concerts but also readings and theatrical performances).

Within a few years, the Oratory was enriched with works of art by Gerolamo Scaglia, Matteo Boselli, Antonio Franchi, Filippo Dinelli and Pier Filippo Mannucci, interesting exponents of the local painting school. In addition, in 1725, the tribune was entirely frescoed by Giovanni Domenico Lombardi (Lucca, 1682 - 1751), and highly scenic altars were built into which seventeenth-century canvases were inserted. The oratory also pursued educational purposes: in fact, Guasparini’s desire was to give education to needy boys. Activities were interrupted during the Napoleonic period, following the suppression of religious orders, but in 1914 the educational tradition resumed with the activities of the Ricovero degli Artigianelli, which had its headquarters here. Finally, in the 1990s, the Oratory became the auditorium of the Diocesan Musical Institute “Raffaello Baralli.”

The restoration, which began in 2017 after the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Lucca obtained a free loan for use of the oratory from the diocesan body, involved twenty individuals including firms and professionals and allowed for a complete renovation of the structure: the interventions involved the roofing (which was waterproofed: in fact, the oratory suffered from numerous infiltration problems), the eaves channels, the roof trusses (entirely overhauled), the exterior plaster (which underwent a complete makeover), the fixtures, and the interior. Thus, improvements have been made to ensure the preservation of the artistic elements and accouterments capable of making the Oratory a place where meetings with musical, historical and popular themes can be held, as well as allowing everyone to enjoy this Baroque treasure.

“The idea of recovering the Oratory,” said CRL Foundation President Marcello Bertocchini, “was shared with the diocesan body not only to protect and preserve an artistic asset of the highest value. The intent is to give life to an active and frequented space: a rediscovered jewel for the Lucchesi, a destination for tourist flows, an ideal setting for musical, cultural and popular events. This inauguration should also be interpreted as a sign of confidence and hope in a difficult and delicate historical conjuncture.” The Oratory was indeed inaugurated on Friday, June 12.

The Guardian Angels Oratory will open free to the public on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Lucca, restoration of the Oratory of the Guardian Angels ends: the Baroque jewel now reopens to the public
Lucca, restoration of the Oratory of the Guardian Angels ends: the Baroque jewel now reopens to the public

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