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The Devotion to St. Anthony of Padua and the Miraculous picture

The Roman community of the Ancients had, as mentioned above, a strong identity linked to the common birthplace; another sign of identity was the devotion to St. Anthony of Padua. In 1669 some elderly inhabitants of Rome donated to the parish church of Anzino a painting depicting the vision of the child Jesus by St. Anthony in his own bedroom. We do not know where the devotion to the Portuguese saint who died in the 13th century originated from, but his cult is very widespread in the world, in Italy and in the Ossola valleys. The fact is that the painting shows at the base in a cartouche the inscription “benefactors of Anzino inhabitants in Rome made the year 1669”.

Popular tradition handed down the story of the transport of the saint's painting, which would have disappeared several times at border changes and in dangerous situations and that upon his arrival in January the lilies would have blossomed in the meadows adjacent to the parish church. Traces of this tradition can be found in the feast celebrated every year on the last Sunday of January for the commemoration of the arrival of the painting (called Sunday of the lily). From this date on in the parish church, which later became the Sanctuary of St. Anthony of Padua, the number of works of art, liturgical furnishings, vestments donated by Roman colonists to the parish church was ever increasing. Some examples are the altars of S. Antonio and the Madonna of the rosary, the solemn white parament for the feast of the saint, some paintings, a Madonna del buonconsiglio located in the choir of the sanctuary, of evident Roman workmanship at least for the altarpiece and very fine invoice. The Roman colony of the Ancients therefore maintained a constant relationship with the motherland and continued to enrich it generously.

Over the years another use came to impose itself; that of providing for public needs by raising funds with a begging, we do not know with what deadlines, or of providing through "corporations" for investments that would benefit the country. In the headquarters of the Public Institute of Anzino some small boxes are kept for the collection of offerings. Two, very similar, bear the effigy of S. Antonio and the inscription “benefactors of Anzino inhabitants in Rome”, while another, more worn, the effigy of the transport of the holy house of Loreto. Probably these boxes for the collection of coins were circulated by some persons in charge within the Roman colony and the proceeds were then administered by a so-called "congregation". Traces of it can be found in some archival documents and in some works. Before the date of 1832 (foundation of the Public Institute of Anzino) we find this group of settlers dedicated to charitable works named as "congregation of Rome" or, with the usual formula, "benefactors of Anzino living in Rome". In a letter sent via delegates bearing as sender "the congregation of Rome" the settlers claim to have paid for the cutting of the plants between the chapels of the via crucis (painted by Lorenzo Peracino, inaugurated in 1761 and depicting, besides the stations of the Passion, the miracles of S. Antonio) and it is recommended not to make the wood grow back between them "for the greater glory of the Most Holy Face of Our Lady Jesus Christ". It is significant that a group far from the country entered such a practical matter; the connection with the housework was really very felt and strong. Another historical document attesting to this corporatism is the house in which the municipality of Anzino was located until 1929; it is annexed to the former social dairy of the town. On the façade that closes the municipal square, among other plaques, one can read one bearing the words “house owned by several benefactors of Anzino living in Rome, MDCCCXXII”.

There are other documents such as the construction of the altars of the parish church and other works that attest to the activity of the Roman colonists in favor of the town. Alongside the works carried out with the help of several subjects, there are also those made with the intervention of individuals, such as Count Antonio Spadina who built a fountain in the first half of the nineteenth century and donated numerous furnishings to the Parish Church.

The origins of the Anzinese Colony in Rome

The village of Anzino is located in the Anzasca Valley, approximately in the middle, on the south side of the Valley. The position unites it to the town of Bannio, with which it makes common. The two aforementioned villages, on the other hand, are located on two large morainic plateaus left by the glaciers during the last glaciation.

According to the historian Rizzi, a scholar of Ossola history, Anzino was already inhabited in the year one thousand. Leaving aside the various hypotheses on the time of colonization of this center and on its name (which has a root very common to other Ossola toponyms), we have to get to the century. XVI for the beginning of our discussion. It was in fact in this period, in the second half of the 1500s, that the elderly began to be characterized by a migratory movement that led them to establish a strong colony in the city of Rome which will survive until the early 1900s and which still continues today in some descendants of emigrant families. There are no studies on this colony, its history and the reasons that led to its birth. We can draw only on the oral tradition and on some remaining documents that speak of the nature of this social group. The Roman colony of Anzino was probably "founded" for economic reasons; the hard life and then difficult conditions of the Anzasca Valley, not particularly fertile or rich (the gold mines were always the prerogative of other owners rather than the inhabitants of the Valley) pushed the elderly to seek their fortune elsewhere. We cannot know why Rome was the chosen one. The fact is that many families left for the eternal city: the Titoli, the Quaroni (ancestors of the architect Ludovico Quaroni and RAI president Pietro Maria Quaroni), the Antonioletti, the Cantonetti, the Tailetti, the Spadina, the Cassietti and others. . All these nuclei, left sooner or later during the three centuries of life of the Roman colony, obtained a good fortune. Here the oral tradition that the skilled elderly people as expert and crafty wine merchants in the area near Piazza Navona is confirmed in a census much later than the beginning of the colony, preserved in the Archives of the Public Institute of Anzino, dated to 1880 There are many hosts and waiters among the emigrants to Rome, certainly more than fifty.

The large colony accumulated a fair amount of wealth over time, so much so that Anzino was considered one of the richest villages in the Anzasca Valley (even more than the administrative capital of Bannio). It also had as its peculiarity the constant contact with the country and the insertion of the emigrants in issues concerning the social life of Anzino. As evidenced by the writing of Don Eugenio Manini, primicerio parish priest of Anzino from 1901 to 1961, who had the opportunity to meet many belonging to the last phase of the Roman colony, those who still wintered in Rome at the beginning of the 20th century to return to the Alps in the summer, the elderly frequented the Roman church of Santi Ambrogio and Carlo al Corso for worship. From it they borrowed the colors and the style of the confraternity's clothes. It was therefore a community united in the sign of its native country, which maintained strong ties within it and with the country from which some emigrants had left in search of fortune centuries earlier.

The Roman colony, little by little, after having accumulated discrete wealth for its initial size and possibilities, gradually enriched the town of Anzino and its parish church, which since 1669 has hosted the cult of St. Anthony of Padua. Sign of the enrichment of the town are the numerous stately homes located on the "caràl", the central street that connects the lower part with the upper part.

The Foundation of the Public Institute of Anzino

At the date of 1832 probably the Roman congregation and its members realized that they had to give more stability and continuity to their charitable work in favor of the country which for now survived thanks to their economic fortune and their donations. The business had to stand on its own and investments were needed to give it the basis for continuing to operate. On March 17, 1832, the founders of the Istituto Pubblico di Anzino appeared before the notary Vincenzo Arcangeli in Rome. With a public deed called "declaration made in favor of the mass of taxpayers of Anzino, diocese of Novara" they bought a house in vicolo delle grotte n ° 32. With the proceeds of the rents coming from the building, the signatories declared that they wanted to relieve the population of Anzino from the taxes of the so-called quinternetto: salary of the parish priest of Anzino, salary of the primary school teacher (also open to females), salary of the sacristan of the parish church, payment of a chaplain for the celebration of a certain number of masses per year. The only request is the celebration of a mass for the deceased in their own suffrage once a year in the parish church. The purchase of the house in Rome and the conditions set by the founders proved to be happily effective and the population of the country was effectively relieved of the aforementioned taxes. In 1858 the building was probably bought at street numbers 33 and 34 of the same alley of the caves where the first house owned by the Institute was located. However, in the following years, as those who had established these rules gradually disappeared, the management of the assets had to be changed.

The transfer from Rome to Anzino

At the end of the 19th century, the political and administrative landscape in the city of Rome changed. The birth of the Kingdom of Italy and the taking of Rome make the Papal state and the temporal power of the Popes fail. Also in this period the activity of the Roman colony began to gradually fade, also due to the decrease in the components of the colony. In fact, the offices are no longer regularly elected and the meetings are reduced. Until between 8 May and 4 June 1906 the mass of taxpayers residing in Rome, given the small number of Anzinesi residing in the Eternal City, and no longer recognizing the need to maintain the administration of the association in Rome, decided to transfer the administration to Anzino; and without prejudice to the autonomy of the Institute, the Rome assembly of 4 June 1906 decided to entrust the Anzino Municipal Council (then existing) with the task of appointing the Administrations of the Entity in the future, always in compliance with the articles of association. of 1832. On 17 July of the same year, the Municipal Council of Anzino (mayor Dr. Alfonso Titoli), proceeds with the appointment of the new administration which will be chaired by Dr. Titoli himself. The Council of the Institute will therefore be composed of three members chosen from among the municipal councilors and two members chosen from among the heads of families residing in Anzino. All this until 1928/1929, when following the amalgamation of the Municipality of Anzino with that of Bannio, it was necessary to change the system and in 1955 the first democratic elections were held in which all heads of families have the right to vote.

The Institute today.

However, the management of the Roman properties continued until 1992, when, due to various administrative problems and the decay of the structures, the board of directors decided to sell the properties. About a billion lire was obtained from the sale, which was reinvested in closer and more easily managed properties. Currently the Anzino Public Institute owns three buildings including a block house, the former town hall, the house in via Spadina 7 in Anzino and a building in Piedimulera divided into three apartments. With the proceeds from these properties, the institution provides for the needs of the country which it is able to meet.

To date, all those born in Anzino, those who have been residing in Anzino for at least five years, those who are married to an associate and all his descendants in direct line are members by right of the Institute. The governing bodies of the institution are the general assembly of the associates, the board of directors, made up of a president and six advisers, the treasurer, the secretary and three auditors. In addition, an Honorary President is appointed for life.

Rome, March 17, 1832

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