Initially named after Saint Antonio Abate and Saint Agostino, nowadays it is commonly called the church of the Holy Crucifix of Combo
Built starting in 1356, this important religious building in Bormio houses the mysterious and much venerated Holy Crucifix inside. The numerous frescoes of various styles and eras are also valuable as well as the large series of votive tablets in honor of the graces received. Upon entering the church, your gaze will be drawn to the figure of St. Antonio Abate. This painting, the work of Eugenio Ponzio, was painted in 1873. The side walls of the main altar, painted in the sixteenth century by Paolo Caylina the Younger, instead represent scenes from the life of the saint. Also by the same artist are the other frescoes of the apse and of the vault depicting the Annunciation and the four evangelists, easily recognizable thanks to their typical symbols of art such as the man for Matthew, the lion for Mark, the ox for Luke and the eagle for John.
Precious frescoes from the fourteenth century are also present on the side walls and on those that separate the nave from the apse. Among the main works we like to point out those concerning the Crucifixion, the Pietà and above all the one dedicated to St. Augustine, the only fresco dedicated to the Saint for whom the church was initially named (with St. Anthony) even if after its foundation no more is heard about St. Augustine in relation to this church.
The frescoes in the center of the nave and depicting God, Jesus and the Madonna, with Saints Gervasio and Protasio also have particular historical and artistic importance. These frescoes only came to light in the early 2000s thanks to the renovations promoted by the archpriest of Bormio Don Giuseppe Negri.
The traditional blessing of animals takes place in the churchyard every 17 January, Saint Antonio’s day. In the past the blessing was reserved for pack animals while nowadays pets are also blessed.
The Holy Crucifix of Combo – Il Santo Crocifisso di Combo
The thaumaturgical crucifix has been housed in a dedicated side chapel in the church of St. Antonio in Bormio since 1738.
The provenance of this important religious artefact is not known and a veneration of particular importance for the entire community of Bormio revolves around it. It is said that during a violent summer storm, a shepherd from Valfurva had miraculously found shelter under an imposing trunk. Particularly struck by the event, the man decided to thank the Lord by carving a crucifix in that trunk which was so dear to him and to which he presumably owed his life. However, the carver was killed at the hands of unfaithful soldiers. The shepherd’s wife then decided to entrust the crucifix to the waters of the River Frodolfo which transported it to the Combo Bridge where it was found and since then has been venerated by the whole community.
Popular devotion to the Holy Crucifix is documented since the early eighteenth century, a period to which the first processions date back. However, it should be noted that the veneration of the cross was nothing new for Bormio. Already in the 14th century, on the first Monday of June each year, a Holy Cross (today no longer preserved) was brought from the Collegiate Church of Bormio to the Church of Santa Maria di Livigno. The procession was accompanied by a long parade in which an adult man from each family in the countryside had to take part. The penalty for failing to participate in the rite was a cash fine to be allocated to the purchase of wax for churches.
This religious celebration, which fell towards the end of the 16th century, was replaced in 1733 by the transportation of the Crucifix of Combo. The purpose of the transportation was to pray for rain and divine protection in times of war or epidemics. People also prayed to the Holy Crucifix to ask for the healing of a relative. Invocations and thanks are well demonstrated by the numerous votive tablets in the niche below the organ.
A tradition still alive today, felt and strongly participated in, is the transportation of the Holy Crucifix between the districts of Bormio during the jubilee years.
Enjoy your discovery of the hidden treasures of Bormio from Stefano and from all the staff of Albergo Adele
Geographic coordinates of the site: 46°27’55” N 10°22’46’’ E – UTM 32T 605930 5146672
Excursion in the area: The well-being, art and culture walk
Sources: CMAV information signs
Book – “La chiesa di san Gallo” di Ilario Silvestri
Private sources Madame Maria Pedranzini