Church of San Tomè • • Visit Bergamo

Church of San Tomè

Description

San Tomè arises from the plain like a mirage. A narrow street hidden among the trees gives the impression of being carried away to a remote time, featuring pilgrimages, holy wars, heroic knights and mysterious legends.

Characterized by a peculiar circular plan, the building was probably inspired by the Temple of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, the place where people think Jesus was buried. Its definitive building, in fact, dates back to the medieval period when pilgrims, crusaders, mystics, heretics and believers used to dream and go to the Holy Land.

Once you step inside the church, a unique and rarefied atmosphere surrounds you: lights and shadows embroider the floor and the walls, while the columns mark the space changing their shape from high and imposing in the nave to thin in the matroneum. The magic increases during equinoxes, when a single ray of light hits the altar’s tabernacle, creating an amazing show that evokes ancient rituals and sacred symbolism.


The fact that it was built in such an isolated place makes assume that, in ancient times, there was a necropolis in that very same area; there is no confirmed information about its construction, but probably the original building dates back to the X Century.

Nevertheless, right before the beginning of XII Century both wars and abandonment turned it into a kind of ruin, so the bishop of Bergamo decided to build it ex novo, keeping only the basis of the old temple. Today, San Tomè can be admired in all its essential glory: a small church, made of rough stones and divided into three parts: aisle, tiburium and lantern.
You can spot the typical features of Romanesque architecture: sobriety, references to the solar cycles of seasons in order to standardize the life of men and nature, refusal of dissipation. The columns’ capitals, for instance, are all different and are recycled from pre-existing buildings.

All over the walls you can devise the remains of frescoes: one Madonna and Child enthroned, on the left side of the entrance, and an Annunciation in the matroneum. Therefore, we can presume that the walls used to be fully decorated with fine paintings. 

The entry portals are adorned with bas-reliefs: one of them portrays a man holding a lance, Saint Thomas. Some rectangular half-pillars (called “lesene”) stick out of the external walls, in order to lighten the structure. The apse is located near a rocky spur overlooking a creek.

Next to San Tomè there used to be a small monastery, which was later turned into a farmstead. This underwent a careful restoration and now it houses a research centre called “Antenna Europea del Romanico”, also used to host conferences, events and exhibitions.

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San Tomè arises from the plain like a mirage. A narrow street hidden among the trees gives the impression of being carried away to a remote time, featuring pilgrimages, holy wars, heroic knights and mysterious legends.

Characterized by a peculiar circular plan, the building was probably inspired by the Temple of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, the place where people think Jesus was buried. Its definitive building, in fact, dates back to the medieval period when pilgrims, crusaders, mystics, heretics and believers used to dream and go to the Holy Land.

Once you step inside the church, a unique and rarefied atmosphere surrounds you: lights and shadows embroider the floor and the walls, while the columns mark the space changing their shape from high and imposing in the nave to thin in the matroneum. The magic increases during equinoxes, when a single ray of light hits the altar’s tabernacle, creating an amazing show that evokes ancient rituals and sacred symbolism.


The fact that it was built in such an isolated place makes assume that, in ancient times, there was a necropolis in that very same area; there is no confirmed information about its construction, but probably the original building dates back to the X Century.

Nevertheless, right before the beginning of XII Century both wars and abandonment turned it into a kind of ruin, so the bishop of Bergamo decided to build it ex novo, keeping only the basis of the old temple. Today, San Tomè can be admired in all its essential glory: a small church, made of rough stones and divided into three parts: aisle, tiburium and lantern.
You can spot the typical features of Romanesque architecture: sobriety, references to the solar cycles of seasons in order to standardize the life of men and nature, refusal of dissipation. The columns’ capitals, for instance, are all different and are recycled from pre-existing buildings.

All over the walls you can devise the remains of frescoes: one Madonna and Child enthroned, on the left side of the entrance, and an Annunciation in the matroneum. Therefore, we can presume that the walls used to be fully decorated with fine paintings. 

The entry portals are adorned with bas-reliefs: one of them portrays a man holding a lance, Saint Thomas. Some rectangular half-pillars (called “lesene”) stick out of the external walls, in order to lighten the structure. The apse is located near a rocky spur overlooking a creek.

Next to San Tomè there used to be a small monastery, which was later turned into a farmstead. This underwent a careful restoration and now it houses a research centre called “Antenna Europea del Romanico”, also used to host conferences, events and exhibitions.