Oratory of San Fedele Novate Mezzola


Built at the turn of the X-XI century, on the site of the martyrdom of Saint Fidelis (killed around 303-305) at the northern most endpoint of Lake Como (which was then not a separate lake). Curiously, building is located on the west bank of the lake in the province of Como, but is owned by the parish of Novate Mezzola province of Sondrio. Today it can only be reached by boat since the road runs on the east bank. But in ancient times Via Regina ran through this location connecting Como to the Alps.

Who was Saint Fidelis?

Saint Fidelis was a faithful soldier of the emperor, who, having converted to Christianity, refused to make sacrificial offerings to the gods before battle. For this act of defiance, he was sentenced to death, along with other soldiers who also converted (the so-called Theban Legion). To escape condemnation, he fled to Como and up the lake with a boat, to present day Lake Mezzola, where he was captured by assassins of the emperor and beheaded. A small chapel was built upon this location and then forgotten. In the early sixth century, his tomb was witnessed by Ennodius, bishop of Pavia. In 964 the relics were rediscovered, thanks to a local woman who claimed to see San Fedele's place of burial in a dream.  Informed of her dream, Bishop Gualdone, ordered a search for the martyr's relics, which were actually found on the site indicated and later transported to Como to be preserved in the basilica of St. Euphemia which on this occasion was dedicated to San Fedele. On the site of the discovery was erected the present day oratory.

Both the interior and exterior were completely covered with frescoes. Gone are those external parts and the inner works are severely damaged by moisture and neglect. The decoration is best preserved in the apse, where the vault portrays Christ Pantocrator between two adoring angels.

Oratory of San Fedele