Saint of the Day – 15 April – Saint Abbondio of Como (Died c 564) the Fourth Bishop of Como, Italy, Confessor, Theologian, Papal Legate. Patronage – The City ad the Diocese of Como. He is also known as – Abundius, Acoitius, Agontius, Habundius. Additional memorial – the Diocese of Como celebrates it on 31 August. Abbondio is one of those to whom the authorship of the Te Deum is attributed.
The Roman Martyrology states: “In Como, Saint Abbondio, Bishop, who was sent to Constantinople by Pope Saint Leo the Great and zealously defended the right faith.”
Abbondio, Bishop of Como, a City that still preserves his remains in the Basilica dedicated to him and honours him as their Patron.
A tradition says that Abbondio was Greek, from Thessalonica (now Thessaloniki) but his name is so frankly Latin, which makes it doubtful. Instead, it appears that Abbondio knew the Greek language well, a rare case in the Western Church at the time. The time and place of his birth are, therefore, uncertain and the first certain date of his biography is 17 November 440 – on that day, Abbondio, former assistant of Bishop St Amanzio in Como, received Episcopal Consecration, as his successor.
But he could not immediately dedicate himself to the Diocese, for St Pope Leo I the Great (the one of the meeting with Attila) needed him for a task that was anything but peaceful. St Leo wanted him to go to Constantinople, as Papal Legate, to the Emperor Theodosius II.
There Abbondio’s mission was to re-establish unity in the faith in a lasting way, after the long doctrinal conflict aroused by the Bishop Nestorius and the Superior General Eutiche. These were two eminent figures of Eastern Christianity, both however, in opposition to the Doctrines of the Church of Rome and of the Councils, on the theme of the two natures – human and divine – in the person of Christ.
Emperor Theodosius II also died in 440 and Abbondio found his successor, Marcian in Constantinople. To him, as to the Bishops, clergy, Monks and faithful, Abbondio, forcefully reaffirms the Catholic Doctrine on the two natures in Christ, as it was explained by Pope Leo in a letter which Abbondio carried and which was addressed to the Emperor.
He completed the mission by having the Papal document accepted by all the Bishops of the East. Abbondio was happifully welcomed home in Rome by Pope Leo in 451, after the peaceful and complete success of his mission.
After a similar mission at the Council of Milan in 452, he was finally able to occupy his See and be the full-time Bishop of Como. For Appondio, this meant becoming a missionary, proclaiming the Gospel in the mountain regions, in the Lugano area and in other country areas not yet fully Christianised. The Diplomat and theologian became an itinerant preacher in his great pastoral zeal to reach all the people of his Diocese.
Appondio died on an Easter Sunday, says a text of the time, immediately after having offered Holy Mass and preached. But the year of death is not known with certainty, indicated by some in 469, by others in 488 or 499.
The Romanesque Basilica of Sant’Abbondio at Como, consecrated in 1095 by Pope Urban II, is dedicated to him and his relics are conserved beneath its principal Altar, see below.
The Sant’Abbondio Basilica is found outside Como’s ancient City walls near via Regina, the ancient road along the hillside that traces Lake Como’s western shore. Built between 1050 and 1085, on the site where a paleo-Christian dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul had stood. The Basilica was consecrated in 1095 by Pope Urban II, travelling through Como on his way to the Council of Clermond Ferrand, where he announced the beginning of the First Crusade.
The Sant’Abbondio Basilica unwinds across five naves, which are spaced out by grand pilasters and granite columns. In the central aisle there are gravestones of the Bishops of Como. Next to the main Altar we find a Statue of Sant’Abbondio, attributed to Tommaso Rodari at the end of the 15th century – see the first image above. The pictorial cycle in the basilica’s choir loft is noteworthy and the frescoes of the Birth and the Passion of Jesus were realised in the 14th century by an unknown Lombardy painter. To the sides of the entrance portal, we can admire two splendid 17th century canvases one which is Giovan Battista Recchi’s St. Abbondio with a Child, see below.