St. Lawrence’s Church – Sauris di Sopra/Ouberzahre

In a document dating back to 1328 in addition to St. Oswald’s Church in Sauris di Sotto/Dörf, also a place of worship dedicated to St. Lawrence in Sauris di Sopra/Ouberzahre was mentioned. The existing church, built at the beginning of the 16th century on a slope downstream from the village, is a typical example of a small German Gothic-style alpine church.
The exterior of the church is characterised by its stone façade, onto which a large rose window opens, from the polygonal apse with three single lancet windows, from the bell tower with its polygonal steeple, from the steeply sloping roof covered with larch “scàndole” (shingles). The graveyard spreads around the church and onto the slope below.
The interior of the church consists of a simple rectangular layout and the typical Gothic polygonal plan apse, covered by a beautiful ribbed vault highlighted by groins. The imposing wooden roof truss made visible once again during restoration work carried out after the earthquake in 1976, emphasised the verticality of the spaces and contributed towards shedding more light on the church interior.
Along the walls there are four oval medallions portraying the Evangelists, salvaged from the false ceiling demolished during the restoration work. There are also paintings of the Way of the Cross, bearing words written in German proving that the local population used the German language also in a religious context.
The church hosts two wooden altars that are worthy of note. The altar devoted to Our Lady of the Rosary (Madonna del Rosario), along a recess on the left-hand wall, was badly damaged by thieves who deprived it of all its original statues. This altar was built around 1650 by Gerolamo Comuzzo from Gemona.
In another recess on the right-hand wall, there is the Flügelaltar of the Last Supper, crafted in Michael Parth’s workshop by Brunico (Bruneck). The coffer and the doors are vividly and confidently decorated with three Eucharistic scenes: The Last Supper, the Entry of Jesus in Jerusalem and the Prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. The biblical episode of the “Fall of Manna and the Bronze Serpent is portrayed in the predella (base). The altar is completed by a crown of spires in a typically-Gothic style. During the Holy Week, the doors are kept closed, offering an opportunity to admire the external decorations: a delicate Annunciation scene. The artist’s initials M. P., Michael Parth, and the date 1551 can be seen in three different places on the altar. It was the Confraternity of the Holy Sacrament that commissioned the altar from the same workshop Brunico (Bruneck) that had created the main altar in St. Oswald’s church in Sauris di sotto, almost 30 years previously. Compared to this latter, the alter in Sauris di Sopra shows not only the Late Gothic style that was typical of the workshop, but also an increased influence of Italian Renaissance art, particularly evident in the central scene, in the perspective of the chequered floor.
A large arch links the aisle to the typically Gothic-style polygonal apse, covered by a beautiful ribbed dome vault. Here you can find the Baroque style marble main altar in marble, including statues of Saints Lawrence and Joseph.