The parish of Lanzada

View of Lanzada in a photograph of the beginning of the 20th century.

The parish of Lanzada, like the other municipalities of the Valmalenco, was formally established in 1624 (14 October) according to the decree of the Bishop of Como, Sisto Carcano. The religious community of Lanzada has its roots in far older times, if we consider that the original nucleus of the village already existed towards the end of the fourteenth century. Over the following century, the village centre was often mentioned in documents as the "quadra di San Giovanni Battista". As in other valley communities, the rise in the population in Lanzada led the community to build its own church, which was dedicated to John the Baptist. The existence of the church is first documented, however, only in 1593: these were the documents of the pastoral visit by the Bishop of Como, Feliciano Ninguarda who, after having visited the village of Chiesa, wrote:

Two miles further on, there is a village called Lanzada, where there is a parish church dedicated to San Giovanni, under which there are a few other districts which, together with the main one, add up to over a hundred and ten families.

The churches of the Valmalenco were inappropriately called parish churches at the time as, given the geographical distance which separated them from the church of the archpriest of Sondrio on which they depended, all the liturgical and sacramental services of the parish churches were held there.

With the diffusion of the Protestant Reform, Lanzada also saw a rather large evangelical community begin to flourish. Thus, in order to comply with the decrees of the Grigioni government, which had established the confessional equality between the Catholic and the reformed religion and the obligation for Catholics to share their church with the Protestants where another church could not be assigned to them, the church of Lanzada was used in turn by believers of the two religions. According to tradition, the church was even divided in half by a curtain. This difficult life in common must have caused numerous arguments and controversies if, towards the end of the sixteenth century (1578), they all agreed to build and pay for a place of worship specifically for the evangelical community. The Protestant church was built next to the Catholic church.

At that time, the Catholic church was guided by an assistant paid by the archpriest of Sondrio, who served in both Lanzada and Caspoggio. The first parish priest of Lanzada, appointed by the community following the deed to proclaim it as an autonomous parish, was Giovanni Pietro Carini, born in Lanzada, who was followed shortly afterwards by Giovanni Cilichini, also from Lanzada, who held the post until 1647.

Between the seventeenth and eighteenth century, following its establishment as an autonomous parish and the disappearance of the reformed community (after the revolution of the Valtellina in 1620), Lanzada saw not only new churches flourish in the districts furthest away, but also the complete restoration of the parish church of San Giovanni Battista (1659). The church of San Pietro in the district of Tornadri and that of San Carlo in Vetta date back to the first half of the seventeenth century. A century later, they constructed the churches of the Addolorata in Ganda, that of the Immacolata in Moizi, and the so-called Oratory of the dead, next to the parish church, probably built on the remains of the old Protestant church.


  • Silvio Bradanini, Lanzada e le sue chiese nella storia e nell’arte, Sondrio 1986
  • Saveria Masa, Fra curati cattolici e ministri riformati. Nicolò Rusca e il rinnovamento tridentino in Valmalenco, Sondrio 2011
  • Ninguarda, La Valtellina negli atti della visita pastorale diocesana di F. Feliciano Ninguarda vescovo di Como annotati e pubblicati dal sac. dott. Santo Monti nel 1892 (edited by Lino Varischetti – Nando Cecini), Sondrio 1963, pp. 309-310
  • Michele Parolini, Conosciamo i nostri santi. San Giovanni Battista, in “Voce della comunità di Lanzada”, in “Voce della comunità di Lanzada”, No.58 (1997), pp. 12-14
  • Michele Parolini, Alla riscoperta della nostra prima chiesa, in 300 anni. Speciale Chiesa Parrocchiale, in “Voce della comunità di Lanzada”, No. 73 (2006), pp. 7-14