The Basilica of San Fedele

The Basilica of San Fedele is dedicated to the 3rd century martyr killed during the persecution of Diocletian near Samolaco.

Chiesa San Fedele

The Basilica overlooks the square of the same name and is at the center of the walled city on the important road already in Roman times. That shows some traits of the ancient pavement found during works carried out in the last century.

Historical news

The church of San Fedele is located in the place where previously it was an early Christian church dating back to the 7th century dedicated to Santa Eufemia. Serafino Balestra, restorer of Sant’Abbondio, claims that during work carried out in the church of San Fedele in 1881, the remains of the primitive basilica and the foundations of a temple dedicated to Jupiter emerged. Then it was turned into a church. The title was attributed to the church of Como in all probability in the seventh century by the bishop Agrippino who had been ordained in 606 by the patriarch of Aquileia. He was a staunch defender of the schism. He had founded a church dedicated to Santa Eufemia on the Comacina Island, where he was later buried.

In 964, according to tradition, the transfer of the newly found remains of the martyr Fedele dates back to the basilica. This fact is the basis of the change of dedication of the church and, presumably, also of the transfer of the title of cathedral to Santa Maria Maggiore. In fact the first document in which the latter is cited with this title dates back to 1006.

Architecture

The current church is Romanesque. Rear is the barrel vault on the central nave with arch-tympanum structure. An important work of the Lombard Romanesque is the choir, inspired by the Palatine Chapel in Aachen. The Chapel has an important sculptural decoration of the Magistri Comacini with zoomorphic figures, monsters, griffins. It is characterized by a central sixteenth-century rose window. Below which opens the portal with a lunette and arch which replaced the previous arched one. Still on the left side is the slender bell tower.

The apsidal area, more than the façade, constitutes the distinguishing element of the basilica, both from an architectural and a sculptural point of view. Of the three original apses the only one remaining intact is the central one. On the sides of the apse there were two other apses hidden in the thickness of the wall. On the right of the northern one, rebuilt, an original portal opens. The portal has an original tympanum architrave surmounted by a series of hanging arches. The uprights are covered with sculptures. The right one, narrower, has inside two dragons that compete for a prey. Other sculptures, a monkey, a bicaudata mermaid, a griffin.

In all likelihood we are dealing with sculptures from the portal of the church of Sant’Eufemia (8th century) that stood on the area on which San Fedele was built.

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