The church of Beato Serafino in Chiuso Lecco is cited by Manzoni in the first edition called Fermo and Lucia.
The natural beauty of Lecco inspired Alessandro Manzoni in writing The Betrothed as well as real-life figures like the curate of Chiuso, Don Serafino Morazzone.
In the first drafting of the novel dated 1822, entitled Fermo e Lucia, the writer mentioned Chiuso indicating it as “the last village located on the border between the territory of Lecco and Bergamo” and quoted the virtues of his curate saying that “he was a man who would leave an illustrious memory of himself, if the virtue alone was enough to give glory among men”. This passage was then removed from the final version of The Betrothed.
We find the curate of Chiuso when Manzoni tells us about the conversion of the Unnamed. He comes to the church of Chiuso in order to meet Cardinal Federigo Borromeo, Archbishop of Milan.
The small church is located on the principal road connecting Lecco to Bergamo and today is known as a church dedicated to San Giovanni Battista. It has Romanesque origin with the typical structure with a nave and facade.
The treasure of this church is inside, infact it hosts a fine series of frescoes, dating from the fifteenth century and attributed to Giovan Pietro da Cemmo.
Cover image: illustration darft for the edition of The Betrothed dated 1840 Library Braidense
The bravo hastened back with the intelligence, that the Cardinal Frederick Borromeo, Archbishop of Milan, had arrived the evening before at ***, and was expected to pass the day there. The report of his arrival being spread abroad, the people had been seized with a desire to see him; and the bells were rung in testimony of the happiness his presence conferred, and also to give wider notice of his arrival. The Unknown, left alone, continued to look down into the valley.
(…)He enquired of one near him where the cardinal was. “In the house of the curate,” replied the person, respectfully pointing to it. He went to it, entered a small court where there were several priests, who looked at him with astonishment and suspicion.
The Cardinal Frederick was engaged in study, as was his custom, preparatory to the hour of divine service, when the cross-bearer entered, with a disturbed and unquiet air.
“A strange visit,—strange indeed, most illustrious signor.”
“From whom?” asked the cardinal.
“From the signor ——,” replied the chaplain; pronouncing the name which we are unable to repeat to our readers. “He is without, in person, and asks admittance to the presence of your lordship.”
(…) And he led the way into the presence of Frederick, who came forward to meet the Unknown with a pleased and serene countenance, making a sign to the chaplain to quit the room.
The Unknown and the cardinal remained for some moments silent and undecided; the former experienced at the same time a vague hope of finding some relief to his internal torments, and also a degree of irritation and shame at appearing in this place as a penitent, to confess his sins, and implore pardon of a man. He could not speak; indeed, he hardly wished to do so. However, as he raised his eyes to the cardinal’s face, he was seized with an irresistible sentiment of respect, which increasing his confidence, and subduing his pride without offending it, nevertheless kept him silent.
Chiesa del Beato Serafino Corso Bergamo, 116 – Lecco, fraz. Chiuso