Holy Martyrs Church (or San Graziano)
How to get
By train: the nearest railway station is Arona.
The Church of the Holy Martyrs in Arona, of Romanesque origin, stands at the top of the steps at the back of Piazza San Graziano.
Also known as San Graziano Church, it has been renovated several times over the years. It now presents a Baroque façade and attractive 15th century walls built of square blocks of serizzo granite.
The medieval origins of the church are seen in the building next to it, now housing the offices of the Town Council, but once a monastery, founded in the second half of the 10th century, to which the church was attached.
The interior contains a number of art works: the marble High Altar with bas-reliefs of the Martyrs (15th century), an altarpiece of 1480, masterwork of Ambrogio da Fossano called il Bergognone, and beautiful stained glass, especially that of the windows in the San Carlo chapel, dating from 1502. A shrine lined with precious 18th century silk contains some relics of San Carlo, including his crosier.
The fine 1852 fountain is an attractive feature of the small square outside the church. At the back is the Beolchi Ossuary chapel, an excellent example of Lombard Baroque (17th century), with striking wrought-iron railings in flower patterns and some still-visible frescoes.
On 13 March each year, during the Patron Saint’s Day festivities (known as the “Tredicino”), the remains of saints Fedele, Corpoforo, Graziano and Felino are displayed for veneration by the people. Traditionally, this day also celebrates the restitution to the people of Arona of some of the relics of these martyrs by San Carlo Borromeo.