The Churches in Ovada

s-domenicoIn a letter of 1486 is one of the earliest references to the foundation of the church of the monastery dedicated to Our Lady of Grace; the laying of the foundation stone dates back to 1481 when Father Giovanni from Taggia received the diploma that appointed him prior of the monastery.
Some parts of the church (the bell tower, the apse, pilasters, capitals and arches in Romanesque style) seem to be prior to this date although Giorgio Oddini, in his study, found it plausible that the workers repeat the modules and past patterns for desire of patrons.

A plaque on the lintel of the door, dated 1508, shows how construction date 1481 when Count Antonio Trotti was lord of the city.
The simple façade is crowned by eardrum and has a single door; the interior has three naves with a transept, the central one covered by a single barrel vault, while the aisles of four spans covered by cross vault.
The church underwent many alterations in the course of the years and the signs are visible: originally parts of brick masonry were left exposed and the armor of all with wooden trusses was visibibile. The rapid deterioration of the exposed parts, involved the plastering and painting of the interior already in 1585.

Between the seventeenth century and the next century the church was enriched with altars and chapels built by several families and corporations of the city; the floor began to host the graves and tombstones: the area of Square Saint Domenico and the one occupied by the new construction were most likely in the past occupied by a cemetery and maybe even a small chapel, of which the church of Santa Maria of Grace constituted a likely extension.
The life of the church was marked by wars and suppression of religious orders and lived the hardest time when it was transformed into a barracks in 1796.

After the Restoration of 1815 and the passage of the city under the Savoy Kingdom of Sardinia, returned the conditions for a return to religious destination; from the new State Property ownership passed to the City who entrusted the use and conservation to Rev. Fathers of the Pious Schools in Ovada called to heal public education.
Unfortunately, because of the imperative need to restore the roof, the Piarist Fathers were forced in 1837 to sell six altars of the aisles arousing confusion in the population and causing tensions with the municipality, which were resolved only in 1883.
Since then the work of beautification and restoration continued even if, unfortunately, some elements of the original church were removed or destroyed.

Of great importance is the second altar on the right, fine marble work seventeenth century: a time altar of the old parish was placed here in 1847 after the original file had been sold in 1837.
Equally interesting is the altar to the right wall of the transept of the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary very rich in precious marble and placed in this position in 1706. The central statue of Our Lady is the work of a student of the sculptor Filippo Parodi himself a student of Bernini ; the two side statues represent St. Catherine of Siena and Saint Domenico. The statue of Our Lady was crowned by 15 small oil paintings (The Mysteries of the Rosary) of which today only eight are original (the other 7 were stolen during the 80s). The altar is the one that was previously in place of the main altar of the Church removed to put a bigger one.
Tampering and fires suffered by the Church have greatly altered the original building that remains an example of art and a very significant historical testimony.