Today, it contains ten of the sixteen stone sarcophagi entombing the bodies of the princes of the Royal House of Savoy, brought from the Cathedral of Turin on 25 October 1836, when King Carlo Alberto entrusted them to the custodianship of the Rosminian religious, together with the whole abbey.
DEFENDENTE FERRARI’S TRIPTYCH (about 1520)
This is the most precious masterpiece that the Sacra possesses. Removed from the main altar, it was later restored and placed in the old choir.In the centre, standing on a moon crescent, in a gold, almond-shaped niche, surrounded by 12 cherubs, a delicate Madonna, who nurses Jesus Christ, dominates. The side panels represent the Archangel Saint Michael defeating the devil and San Giovanni Vincenzo, who presents the man who commissioned the work, Urbano di Miolans, commendatory abbot of the Sacra from 1503 to 1522, to the Virgin. The gracefulness of the little child is wonderful and the position of its little feet very natural. The splendid face of Mary inspires trust: her look is modest and the general impression is of a sweet melancholy, innocence, and modesty. At the base, there is an exquisite predella on which the creator has painted the Visitation of Mary, the Nativity of Jesus Christ, and the Adoration of the Magi.
THE GREAT FRESCO OF THE ASSUMPTION (1505)
This is the largest fresco preserved in the Sacra. It was painted in 1505, on the left wall upon entering the church. It is a work of great size (measuring 6.5×4 m) mostly executed by Secondo del Bosco di Poirino, but certainly involving the hand of one of his pupils. The painter was able to divide the space harmoniously into three scenes: the Burial of Jesus, the Dormition of Mary (a rather rare subject), and Our Lady of the Assumption. The best scene is that showing Jesus lowered into the sepulchre, which captures the depth of sorrow in Mary’s face and centres one’s attention on Christ by the positioning of all the figures. The freshness of the colours is quite striking.
THE FRESCO OF THE LEGENDS (late 1600?)
Si trova sulla parete destra del Coro Vecchio. È dipinto a linee rosse e bianche su sfondo giallastro e riassume la storia, mista a leggenda, della fondazione del Santuario. In alto a destra sono raffigurati San Giovanni Vincenzo che taglia le travi per costruire una chiesetta a San Michele sul monte Caprasio, angeli e colombe che trasportano le travi dal monte Caprasio alla cima del Pirchiriano. In alto a sinistra il monastero di San Michele già costruito, avvolto da tre fiammate a significare l’angelica apparizione. Al centro il Vescovo di Torino Amizone che sale da Avigliana e trova la chiesa già consacrata dagli Angeli. In basso a sinistra il corteo di Ugo di Montboissier che da Susa si dirige verso il Pirchiriano per fondarvi il Monastero.
THE DEPOSITION OF JESUS FROM THE CROSS AND THE PREACHING OF THE DEAD (1505-1510)
Sulla parte superiore del pilastro del Coro Vecchio è affrescata la deposizione di Gesù: le figure sono ispirate a quelle di Gesù sepolto del grande affresco. Nella parte inferiore la scena curiosa di due scheletri che parlano ad un gruppo di fedeli attraverso due cartigli, uno in latino, che invita alla pietà per i defunti e uno in francese arcaico che esorta i viventi a pregare per i trapassati e a ricordare il comune destino mortale.
Since 24 September 2005, outside the abbey on a rocky outcrop between the “Old Monastery” and the base of the church, there is also the statue of Saint Michael the Archangel created by the sculptor Paul dë Doss-Moroder, an artist from Alto Adige whose most important works are in Italy, Germany, and America (for more information about the sculptor, go to his website).
This is, without doubt, a new and original interpretation of the Archangel Michael, a large work (height: 5.2 m, plus 1.8 m wings, weight: 3,400 kg approx.). The statue won the national competition held by the Sacra for the creation of a sculpture inspired by the Archangel Michael.
The artist describes his work in this way: “Saint Michael was the Archangel of Good, who defeated evil: my statue seeks to reflect this above all, in our world unfaithful to Peace. The work consists of two parts: in one, St. Michael the Archangel is on a solid rock, the same as that on which the Abbey is erected, victor of Good, emissary of Peace and Bearer of the Word of God; in the other, the wings of the defeated Angel of Evil plunge into darkness at the foot of the protruding rock. The Archangel is also the gatekeeper of the Kingdom of God, which symbolically opens in the wall behind the sculpture.”