Paolo Tosio Parish Museum


Not all the works in the Museo Parrocchiale “G. B. Tosio” (G.B. Tosio Parish Museum) are exhibited in the main building of the Museo Civico Goffredo Bellini. Some have remained in the cathedral and are used during the liturgy. The Church of Asola experienced a long period of autonomy: from 1507, the year in which it was elevated to “Insigne Collegiata”, until 1796, when G. Battista Tosio obtained from the Vatican the title of Prelature nullius dioecesis subdita, which lasted until 1818, when Pius VII then annexed the church to the Diocese of Mantua. During the church’s period of independence, the commendatory abbot was vested with episcopal prerogatives and authorities. The town and twelve churches in the surrounding area formed a small autonomous diocese. Even today, the church in Asola is commonly called the “Cathedral”. The large portrait of Abbot Tosio, wearing bishop’s clothes and insignias, also depicts a papal bull (a reminder of the church’s autonomy), as well as an interesting view of the Fortress of Asola. The exhibit continues with three beautiful wooden statues from various periods: a Madonna (perhaps the Madonna Annunciate, a 16th-century work by Clemente Zamara, commissioned along with an angel to place on top of the organ case in the Cathedral), a Saint Joseph (17th century), and a Nun. Four Renaissance-style Sibyls (Phrygian, Hellespontine, Cumaean, and Samian) from the Church of Santa Maria can also be admired. The veneration of saints is the theme of the third and fourth rooms. Alongside images relating to the figures that were most dear to the piety of the Christian people, testimonies related to local historical events are also present, such as four paintings by the 16th-century artist from Brescia, Alessandro Bonvicino, known as the “Moretto”. These are part of a cycle of eight tempera paintings dating back between 1530 and 1540. Their original date is unknown. These paintings were only first mentioned in the early 17th century, when they became an ornament of the loggia adjacent to the town hall, which was built in 1610. It is likely that they were part of the former public building, since it was common practice to decorate buildings intended for government activities with subjects related to local worship. Due to their precarious conditions of preservation, they were moved to the Cathedral around 1620. On display, we can also admire an “Annunciation” with the Prophet Isaiah and the Eritrean Sibyl on either side, while St. Jerome, St. Joseph, St. Catherine of Alexandria, and St. Anthony of Padua (or, according to a recent interpretation, the Blessed Robert of Asola), are kept in storage waiting to be restored. The last room is dedicated to confraternities: lay organizations that were well-rooted in the local community. Of note are two 16th-century sculptures in painted wood, depicting Flagellants in prayer, as well as a beautiful 15th-century processional cross in silver plate embossed on wood, with the representation of a crucifixion on the front, Our Lady of Mercy on the back, and a host of Flagellants under her mantle.