A church at the site, known as San Prospero di Castello, located inside the city walls, is known prior to 997. The church and its adjacent bell tower underwent reconstructions. In 1514, the church which was in ruins, was demolished and a new design by Luca Corti and Matteo Florentino was erected by 1527. Minor chapels were added till 1543, when the basilica was reconsecrated. Major changes to the belltower were designed by Cristoforo Ricci and Giulio Romano in 1536-1570. The facade of the church had been left incomplete till it was completed in 1748-1753 using designs of Giovanni Battista Cattani. While the statues on the facade are contemporary with Cattani's design, on the dais in front of the church are placed six lions (1501), sculpted in rose-colored marble by Gaspare Bigi, and meant to be bases for columns of a portico that had been planned for the church front.
The interior has works of art by Giovanni Giarola, Michelangelo Anselmi, Denis Calvaert, Ludovico Carracci, and Tommaso Laureti. It has altarpieces by Alessandro Tiarini and Francesco Stringa. Sculptors whose work is in the church include Bartolomeo Spani (Tomb of Rufino Gabloneta (1527) over the entrance) and Prospero Spani (il Clemente), who sculpted a Madonna on the right transept. The presbytery has a picture cycle by Camillo Procaccini and Bernardino Campi. The apse is frescoed with a Last Judgment by Procaccini.
The Chapel of the Pratonero family in this church once held the painting by Correggio of the Nativity (La Notte) (1522), which now is found in the Dresden Gallery. In 1640, the painting was absconded from the chapel by the Dukes of Modena for their private collection, a sacrilege which generated a local uproar. A copy made in replacement.
Italy: Handbook for Travellers, First Part: Northern Italy, including Leghorn, Florence, Ravenna, and routes ... (1906) by Karl Baedeker (Firm), New York, Charles Scribner and Sons, Page 362.
- Translated from Italian Wikipedia entry.
- Correggio by Selwyn Brinton, George Bell and Sons, Publisher, London, 1900. Page 131