Shrine of San Fedelino


CONTACT: Valchiavenna Tourism Consortium - 0343 37485 - -

DIRECTIONS: the shrine is located on the shore of the Lake of Novate Mezzola. It can be reached on foot from Dascio (Sorico) or the hamlet of Casenda (municipality of Samolaco). A boat can also be taken across the lake from Dascio or Verceia.


The shrine, which was built during the final quarter of the tenth century, consists of a miniscule square nave (3.46 m x 3.52 m) and an apsidiole. It has two small entrances, one to the north and one to the south. The exterior of the apsidiole is decorated with blind arches and pilasters made of travertine. The walls were built of various types of stone, using materials that are easily found nearby given the vicinity of quarries. It has a gabled sod roof that is similar to those still used on old houses in Valtellina. On the interior, the only remaining frescoes are found in the apsidal conch, which contains exquisite depictions of Christ Pantocrator and two angels.

Information regarding the construction of the shrine wavers between history and legend. It seems that there was a Roman soldier who converted to Christianity named Fedele. His tale involves fleeing from Milan in 284 AD, with a few companions, to escape persecution by Maximian. During a time when Christianity was being accepted by the population and spreading with ease, Maximian forced converted soldiers to make sacrifices to the ancient pagan gods, imprisoning those who refused. Fedele, together with Materno, the Bishop of Milan, helped the soldiers flee towards Como and accompanied them. When they arrived, they were all killed except for Fedele. Alone, he went to the lake and got on a boat, looking for salvation in a place that seemed safe and remote, at the foot of a mountain near Samolaco. However, even there his persecutors discovered him. When Fedele repeated his refusal to renounce the Christian faith, he was decapitated and buried there. In this same place, the local residents erected a small oratory to preserve the martyr’s relics.