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Church of S. Agata

Church of S. Agata

Along the route of the ancient via Regina, in the hamlet of Vergonzago in Moltrasio, stands the small but precious church of S. Agata.

The church has an interesting wall structure in living stone, the famous “stone of Moltrasio”, with decoration with arches and small ashlars. On the external wall towards the mountain you can see a very deteriorated Renaissance fresco with the Martyrdom of St. Agatha, near a large St. Sebastian of the late Gothic period.

The church was built in two fairly close times: initially it included a chapel with two bays with a cross vault, a semicircular apse and a bell tower; shortly afterwards, a side aisle was added towards the lake and another bays were added to the main aisle. The interior is therefore characterized by two naves ending in semicircular apses communicating through round arches in correspondence of the bays. The main portal leads into the left aisle where, above the altar, hangs an interesting wooden Renaissance crucifix with poly-lobed ends.

It is now established that the church has had two construction phases, still legible in the current building. The first was the present main nave divided into two bays with a cross-shaped roof and a semicircular apse; the second was the southern nave and, probably, also the first bay of the main nave, obtained perhaps by closing an original portico.

Thanks to the 2006 restoration, on the cross vault of the main nave, some remains of the medieval frescoes in which parts of an angel and geometric decorations can be distinguished came to light. In the apse of the minor aisle, a fresco depicting Christ in almond between Saints Roch and Anthony, to be referred to the sixteenth century and attributable to Giovanni Andrea De Magistris (Frigerio), has re-emerged.

The discrepancy between the construction phases is evident on the gabled façade.

The oldest part is characterized by blind arches running along the attic, completely absent in the other. In the latter you can clearly see a second entrance, while the main one, which is in the oldest part, occupies almost all the space of a previous three-light window that is still legible. In the southern side, characterized by mighty buttresses, there are two splayed windows under which you can recognize two arches, whose function is unclear. On the opposite side, facing the via Regina, there are two frescoes: the first, large, depicts St. Christopher and is dated to the thirteenth century, the other, enclosed by three blind arches, is greatly damaged and represents the Martyrdom of St. Agatha.
On this side is grafted the slender bell tower, divided into five orders by blind arches.

The building, first mentioned in 1215, testifies to the local cult of the saint, which has older origins, as recalled in a document of 1197 which attests to the presence of a welfare institution dedicated to her.

The first phase, to which the bell tower must also be referred, dates back to the second half of the 10th century, while it is more difficult to date the extension, which, however, cannot be far removed from the 13th-14th centuries. In order to comply with the requests made after the pastoral visits carried out more regularly from the 16th century onwards, various modifications were made to the building which involved the elimination of frescoes damaged by humidity, the plugging of some windows and the raising of the floor of the presbytery. The facade was painted red, as evidenced by the remains still very faded in some places.

In the following centuries the church, sometimes used as a leper hospital, was progressively abandoned, even in conjunction with the construction of the new parish church. In the 16th century, the patronage of the church, which until then had belonged to the Odescalchi family, passed to the Lucini Passalacqua family, owners of the neoclassical villa adjacent to the church. In the last century, various restoration works were carried out to consolidate the masonry and safeguard the original frescoes which, however, had been almost totally damaged by humidity. A new decoration of the walls was then carried out, as evidenced by the geometric motifs of the vaults of the smaller nave, restored during the last important intervention in 2006.

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