Sunday, September 01, 2019

The Basilica of Sant’Abbondio in Como, Italy

Yesterday, the Italian city of Como celebrated the feast of its patron Saint, Abbondio, who was the fourth bishop of the city, reigning from 450-68. A basilica which he dedicated to Ss Peter and Paul was rebuilt in the 9th century as the cathedral, and renamed for him; when the episcopal seat was transferred to another church within the city, the older building was given over to a community of Benedictine monks, who rebuilt it again in the Romanesque style in the second half of the 11th century. Particularly noteworthy are the frescoes in the apse of the life of Christ, the work of an anonymous Lombard painter of the early 14th century, which are in a remarkably good state of preservation. Thanks once again to Nicola de’ Grandi for sharing his pictures with us!
The ceiling of the sanctuary
The body of St Abbondio, who rests between two other bishops of Como, Ss Consul and Exsuperantius.
Marble balustrades from the 9th century version of the church, now in the Civic Museum of Como; these were originally set up around the sanctuary.
A 6th-century grafitto, from the earliest version of the church, in which the two palm branches on either side of the Cross probably represent building’s original dedicatees, Ss Peter and Paul, inspired perhaps by the words of Apocalypse 11, 4, “These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks, that stand before the Lord of the earth.”
The main altar of the cathedral, decorated for the feast.
This massive wooden altar piece with episodes from the life of St Abbondio, anda  variety of Saints, was carved from 1509-14.
A station at the altar for the feast day. 
This inscription records the fact that Alessandro Volta (1745-1827), the inventor of the electric battery, used to attend daily Mass here in his later years.

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: