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Trip Planner:   Europe  /  Italy  /  Lombardy  /  Lake Maggiore  /  Cittiglio  /  Chiesa di San Biagio

Chiesa di San Biagio, Lake Maggiore

#13 of 28 in Historic Sites in Lake Maggiore
Church · Hidden Gem · Tourist Spot
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  • Inside the skeleton of an adult male was found, died as a result of decapitation and presenting various fractures due to sword blows. This decapitated individual was probably a member of the De... 
    Inside the skeleton of an adult male was found, died as a result of decapitation and presenting various fractures due to sword blows. This decapitated individual was probably a member of the De...  more »
  • Currently it is the subject of archaeological excavations and not accessible
  • The building is located on the Sanbiagio hill, which dominates Cittiglio; the area was probably already colonized during prehistoric times and certainly in Roman times (funerary epigraphs found in the countryside of archaeological excavations). One of these epigraphs (belonging to a foreign quadrumvir, who probably was vacationing in the city of Cittadella) was reused as the threshold of the church itself.It looks like a chapel with a single nave, with the altar to the west and the bell tower aligned to the facade (where there is the only entrance). The façade is gabled, with a single central portal with a round arch surmounted by a small single lancet window. The building is only open on special occasions, such as during the feast of San Biagio protector of the throat (in the Christian calendar, San Biagio is celebrated on February 3) when the blessed bread is distributed, and a weekly mass is celebrated there in the Roman rite (since the local parish of San Giulio belongs to the diocese of Como). In the eighth century AD a first small church was erected on the hill: a private chapel, belonging to the noble Sanbiagio family, owner of a contiguous military castrum; was dedicated to San Biagio and Sant'Andrea (this second title was later eliminated in an unknown period). The church was at a lower level than the current building and was diametrically opposite: the altar and apse were facing east, while the vestibule it looked west. Around 1000 the church was demolished and rebuilt: the nave was lengthened and the raised floor. In addition, the bell tower was built, with a cuspidate structure, having at the top a cell open on three sides by mullioned windows, interspersed with a small column with a crutch capital. Between 1050 and 1075 a narthex was built (to house noble tombs) which was as wide as the church and about 1/2 in length. A portion of the façade survives in the sacristy, the construction of which however did not involve the demolition of the façade of the church. In the fourteenth century, when the floor was raised, this diaphragm was demolished and the church and narthex became a single environment. In the sixteenth century the ownership of the church passed to the Besozzi family (among the major local noble lineages), who kept it until the nineteenth. Between 1627 and 1635 the orientation of the church was changed with the demolition of the apse, where the new one was built. entrance; the old one was walled up and turned into the new presbytery. The floor was still raised, while an ossuary was built close to the northern wall of the building. The only addition in 1722: a new sacristy just behind the bell tower. Also in the first half of the 18th century: on the altar a frontal on a pinstripe base. With the excavations since 2006, 3 levels were found: one in terracotta dating back to 1630, one in 1200 in red mortar and another in 1000 in wrought mortar. Then the excavation brought to light the remains of the small ancestral church and the ancient painted apse, demolished following the reversal of the church's orientation; 17 coins dating back to the 12th-16th century, some bowls, knives, fragments of fabric, a ring , buckles, studs and other objects such as a scallop (typical souvenir of pilgrims in Santiago de Compostela), 21 burials, both simple burials and "stable" niches made with stone slabs. In particular, in the anthropomorphic stone niche number 19 the skeleton of an adolescent was found, while in the chapel 13 the skeleton of an adult male was found, who died as a result of beheading and presented various fractures attributable to sword strokes (from this sepulcher also re-emerged a glass lamp, bronze nails and fragments of a clay vase). This decapitated individual was probably a member of the De Citillio family, whose members used to be buried in the atrium; some frescoes, including one from the period 1000 - 1100 depicting the chimera, a mythological animal with three heads (in the shape of a lion, snake and goat) and an unusual effigy in a sacred space.

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