The Basilica of Sant’Abbondio, built in Romanesque style, stands in the town of Como on a former early Christian church. Around 440 d.c. Amazio, the third bishop of Como and predecessor of Abbondio, commissioned the construction of the church, bringing from Rome some relics of the “holy Apostles Peter and Paul” from which he also took the name.
In 818 the basilica was dedicated to Sant’Abbondio and elevated to the cathedral and later, thanks to the work of the Benedictine monks to which it was entrusted, was rebuilt in Romanesque style and consecrated by Pope Urban II in 1095.
In 1500 it was assigned to commendatary abbots who undertook deep renovations taking on a classical dress and starting the construction of a grandiose cloister. In 1616 it was sold to the Augustinian nuns of San Tommaso di Civiglio, which involved other adaptation modifications. The monastery was abolished in 1783, but the church became a subsidiary of the parish of the Most Holy Annunciation.
Bishop Carlo Romano bought it in 1834 as the new seat of the theological seminary, after demolishing and reconstructing most of the demolished buildings from the abandonment by the neoclassical architect Giuseppe Tazzini.
In 1968 the Episcopal Seminary moved and left abandoned until 1974 when it was acquired by the Commune of Como; only in recent times the restoration and upgrading of the University has been carried out. Now the basilica belongs to the parish of the Most Holy Annunciation, entrusted to the regular Chimeras of Somasca.
The outer basilica consists of 5 aisles, built in height and verticality with two twin bells in the apsidal area, a typical solution in the Rhineland. On the portals and around some of the windows there are sculptures.
Inside, however, there is a multitude of columns made up of stone hinges and topped with simple and decorated capitals. There are also Romanesque bas-reliefs and a series of frescoes from the middle of the 13th century. Below the altar are the relics of the patron saint of Como. In the church is evident the early-Christian dark marble structure and in contrast to the ancient openings is the place of light marble.
The frescoes of the presbytery by an unknown author, simply called “master of Sant’Abbondio” between 1315 and 1324, are one of the most complete pictorial cycles of the first three hundred in Lombardy, representing works such as the Annunciation, the blessing of Christ with two archangels, twenty episodes of Jesus’ life, tetramorphic apostles; the vault of the choir instead has a starry sky painted with lapis lazuli powder.