THE SPIRITUAL DIMENSION OF LAKE ORTA AND THE CUSIAN TERRITORY
In Cusio, Christianity arrived at the end of the IV century, introduced by two Greek evangelizing saints: Giulio, a priest, and his brother, Giuliano, a deacon. It was the time when the first bishop of Novara, St Gaudenzio, was converting the lowlands of the diocese, leaving the brothers to evangelize the central area. That they were saints in confirmed by their legacy surviving to this day: in the spiritual communities they founded, in the churches dedicated to them and the the celebrations in their honour, and in the population, whose faith is simple and durable.
Cusio is also dotted with a good many sanctuaries dedicated to the Virgin, an expression of faith and devotion that has endured for centuries, a sign of the constant maternal presence of Mary in local communities. Most of these sanctuaries are tiny, sometimes full of frescoes and art works that were often donated by emigrants to far-off lands, who expressed in this way unsevered links to home and their fathers’ faith.
They range from the daringly built church of Madonna del Sasso, perched spectaculary above the lake, to that of the Madonna della Bocciola at Vacciago, in an equally enchanting position. From the Madonna di Liciago, to which those living on Mottarone are devoted, to the sanctuaries of the two Quarne villages, Salient and Fontegno, and to that of the Madonna della Colletta in the Strona Valley, famous for its triennial celebration envolving a tunnel of cloth.
Among the many spiritual places in Cusio must be mentioned the Isle of St Giulio with its antique basilica and its flock of nuns whose praying protects the territory; the sites of Franciscan spirituality, above all the Holy Mountain devoted to him at Orta, one of the Sacri Monti of the dioceses of Novara that illustrates the Poor Friar’s life in splendid artistic works, and also the Convent on Monte Mesma with its simple, yet beautiful, cloisters and its enchanting quiet.
Miasino has an old Augustinian monastery, more recent is the presence of Benedectine monks at Germagno in the modern Monastery of the Garden of the Resurrection, situated ideally in ancient woods between lake and mountain, a place so beautiful and silent that it stirs religious wonder.
The presence of saints, popular devotion, parish and monastic experience, compose the perfect setting for living and breathing the profound spiritual atmosphere of Lake Orta.