Parish Church of Saints Ambrogio and Theodulo
Historical notes Since the old parish church of Stresa, which was situated near the cemetery, was in a poor state, the building of a new church was planned during Father Giambattista De Antonis’s archpriesthood. The design, on a Greek cross Corinthian plan, was made by architect Giuseppe Zanoia from Omegna and on 26th February, 1786 Anna Maria Mattei Bolongaro laid the foundation stone. The building, which was erected in less than five years, was blessed by monsignor Giuseppe Rabbaglietti on 7th November 1790. On 8th September 1812 it was formally consecrated by Bishop Francesco Maria Milesi. Forty years later, the great benefactress Anna Maria Bolongaro Borgnis had its roof repaired and its main vault, choir vault and presbytery painted. In 1843 she provided it with a new organ and offered a precious gold embroidered canopy for solemn functions. Ms Bolongaro Borgnis then had the right side altar built, which was consecrated to the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary, and she also had the relics of St Vitalian, a martyr who was just a few months old, laid under it. The altar was consecrated by Cardinal Giuseppe Morozzo on 29th August, 1835. At a later time, it was adorned with a copper statue of the Madonna of the Rosary, around which painted medallions portraying the mysteries of the Rosary were arranged. As a sign of everlasting gratitude towards Ms Bolongaro Borgnis and her generous family, the vestrymen of the church asked Angelo Boucheron to compose an inscription, which was placed on a wall of the Madonna of the Rosary’s altar in 1838. A similar commemorative plaque was placed at the altar of the Crucifix in 1843, in memory of Giovanna De Mayer Bolongaro. Abbot Giovanni Battista Branzini then contributed to the church by providing a stained glass placed in the Baptistery, portraying the baptism of Jesus; this work was made by Giovanni Bertini from Biumo Superiore. The abbot also had the floor tiled with a design invented by Morier; in 1853, together with other benefactors, he contributed to accomplish the church facade and to complete the internal walls with the present decorations, paintings and sculptures. In 1959 architect Cesare Mercandino designed and supervised the restoration work of the facade, as it is today. The main organ was expanded the first time by Father Giuseppe Cassani in the 30s and the second time in 1964 by Father Giovanni Porzio, who substituted the old organ with the precious instrument Tamburini. From 1998 to 2006 a general restoration work of the whole church was carried out. In March 2015 a new statue of Blessed Antonio Rosmini, whose remains lie in the crypt of the shrine of the Holy Crucifix at Collegio Rosmini in Stresa, was located inside what was previously called the Ecumenical Chapel. This chapel was completely restored in the same year. *In this church two important funerals were celebrated: the one of the great philosopher Antonio Rosmini, who died in his dwelling in Stresa, palazzo Bolongaro Ducale, on 1st July 1855, looked after by Alessandro Manzoni and the one of Princess Elizabeth of Saxony, who became Duchess of Genoa since she married Ferdinand of Savoy and was the mother of Margherita, Queen of Italy (Umberto I’s wife). Princess Elizabeth died in Stresa on 14th August 1912 at Palazzo Bolongaro-Ducale, her summer residence for about half a century after she became a widow and got married again with Niccolò Giuseppe, Marquis of Rapallo, who is buried at the entrance of the cemetery in Stresa.