In 1300 the church of Sant'Antonio Abate, founded by the Antoniani Fathers, could no longer host its great number of followers. Therefore, people from the municipality of Morcote remembered a small votive chapel at the foot of the mountain above the village, where a stone statue of the Virgin Mary was found in 1313. The church of Santa Maria del Sasso was therefore built on this holy site between 1462 and 1478. The church has three Romanic-style naves, and six terracotta pillars. It was renovated according to the Baroque taste in 1758. The church contains ancient frescoes and an organ from the 18th Century. The frescoes, which are partly hidden in the organ itself, have been attributed to Domenico Sursnicus (1513) and depict scenes from the Passion: on the right, the Garden of Gethsemane and on the left, Jesus bearing the cross. On the front wall there are scenes from the Crucifixion, on the back wall scenes from the Genesis. The church’s oldest frescoes are on the cross vault and the south-west bay; they were painted shortly after building the church, in 1480-90. They represent the Eternal Father, Saint Augustine, Saint Thomas Aquinas and Jerome; they are particularly noteworthy for their quality and uniqueness in history of art in Lombardy. The six female saints’ figures painted in the bay of the central nave have been attributed to Domenico da Montorfano.
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