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Mendrisio, Chiesa dei Santi Martino e Rocco

One of the oldest churches in the Mendrisio area

Svizzera, Cantone Ticino, MENDRISIO


San Martino

(CH 1903) E   719780 N   81990 H   367.0
(WGS 84) Long.   8.981 Lat.   45.879
INTERESSE CONTESTUALE Didactic, Archaeological, Historical, Architectural
ARCHAEOSITE   place of worship


The Chiesa dei Santi Martino e Rocco, in the flood plain of the Laveggio and Moree rivers, stands on the ancient Roman road running from Stabio to Riva S.Vitale. The 1959 archaeological excavation, conducted at the same time as the restoration of the church, uncovered structures pre-dating the present building which can still be seen in the crypt. The early sixth- to seventh-century church consisted of a chamber and a small semi-circular apse with the remains of an altar. Two twin horseshoe-shaped apses were added between the eighth and ninth centuries, and finally, in the twelfth to thirteenth centuries, the building was enlarged with a new apse, the repositioning of the south façade and the elevation of the nave with Lombard bands and Romanesque single lancet windows. Further alterations were made in the Baroque period, with the construction of the sacristy, the rectangular chancel, the external portico and the small bell gable. The interior of the church was embellished with frescoes and religious ornaments, some of which came from the old parish church, which was demolished in 1875.


The Chiesa dei SS. Martino e Rocco was first mentioned only in 1441, although an earlier document records the presence of monastic property in the area: a land transfer deed, dated 963 C.E. testifies to the transfer of land in the Mendrisio zone in exchange for land in Campione, from Aupaldo, Abbot of Saint Ambrogio in Milan, to Liutprando, Abbot of Saint Pietro di Lodi. So the Monastery of Lodi, feudatory owner of these lands, very probably had a “cell”, consisting of agricultural land with a small church, home to both peasants and a monk appointed to administer the property and collect the tithes. This hypothesis was confirmed by the excavations conducted in the 1960s, which revealed that around the foundations of the early church lay a rural building with various rooms and an artesian well. After the cell was abandoned, probably in the twelfth century, the church was transferred to the care of local ecclesiastical authorities and noble families who financed the extension work executed in the twelfth to thirteenth centuries, as well as subsequent modifications and appendages.


The very popular St. Martin’s Fair has been held on November 11 (the Feast of St. Martin) every year since 1684. The three-day Fair takes place on the fields surrounding the Church, and the traditional cattle market has now been supplemented with additional attractions: merry-go-rounds, an agricultural show, and market stalls selling salami, cheese, chestnuts and traditional products.
scala temporale periodi geologici


By bus: from Mendrisio station take the Autolinea Mendrisiense “linea 3” bus going to Fox Town, and get off at Santo Martino. By car: motorway A2, Mendrisio exit, follow directions to Mendrisio city centre, take Via Vignalunga, after 600 metres turn right onto Via S. Martino where you will find the Church.



- AA.VV., Guida d'arte della Svizzera Italiana, edizioni Casagrande, 2007, pp. 450-451
- MARTINOLA, G., Inventario d'Arte del Mendrisiotto, ed. dello Stato, 1975, vol 1., pp. 236- 242.
- MEDICI, M., Storia di Mendrisio, ed. Banca Raiffeisen Mendrisio, 1980, vol 1. pp. 225-247


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Programma di cooperazione transfrontaliera Italia - Svizzera 2007 - 2013 Progetto cofinanziato dal Fondo Europeo Sviluppo Regionale (FESR)
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