This church will be built (or not?): the history of the construction of San Biagio

After a long and fierce debate, in 1899 the new Church of San Biagio was opened: during its construction, many citizens of Maranello participated in the “brick brigade”.

In 1894, a year after the tramway began transporting the citizens of Maranello to Modena (nearly an hour away, in return for a 2 lire ticket), Maranello had picked a new provisional Committee. This time, for feasibility studies about building a new parish church. And the debate turned out much harsher than expected.

Since the days of the Calcagnini fief, the parish church of Maranello, dedicated to San Biagio, was behind the Castle. That old site, perched on a hill, had become peripheral and decentralised from the new town of Maranello. Over the centuries, in fact, the heart of the town had become the crossroads between the Roman Via Claudia and the Via Giardini, built in the 18th century. The location of the ancient church was seen by many as uncomfortable, out of the way, and difficult to reach on freezing winter days when ice and snow made travel difficult.

The landowners of Maranello applied to the Bishop of Modena in order to build the new church. The provost of Maranello, Don Gaetano Masinelli, defended the old church and proposed an expansion. Thus, a tug of war began between supporters and detractors of the new church, complicated by difficulties in finding the right location for a possible reconstruction. One of these – the Prandini field – was defined by Don Masinelli as so inadequate that it would be “better to leave people without a church than to have a church in such an inconvenient place.”

It was the final vote of the heads of Maranello families to settle the issue. Out of 182, only 12 expressed themselves against the new building. The new church of San Biagio was finally built, and the land approved by the Bishop of Modena was exactly the field that Don Masinelli had defined so harshly.

Work started in 1895 on the project of the architect and engineer Carlo Barbieri of Modena. The construction was so deeply approved by the community that many Maranellesi (citizens of Maranello) participated in the “brick brigade” from the Varini furnace to the square of the new San Biagio. The church was opened for worship in 1899, and the bell tower was inaugurated on 15 August 1913, with a festive ringing of its bells.

 

Bibliography

Silvano Soragni, “Maranello, dal Feudo Calcagnini… alla Scuderia Ferrari”, Artioli Editore, 2004.