Culture by Nature

Cuore verde tra due laghi
Cuore verde tra due laghi

The Dragon of the Lake

The legend of the Dragon of the Lake tells of the events of the life of Saint Julius, who was forced to flee the Greek island Aegina for religious reasons. His long Christian journey brought him, at the end of the fourth century, to modern-day Cusio, where Emperor Theodosius was leading a Christian evangelization.

Julius identified a small islet on the lake, today known as the Island of Saint Julius (Isola di San Giulio), as an ideal site to construct his last church (possibly the 100th that he had built) as well as to establish his eternal resting place. Contemplating the island from the shore of the lake, Julius asked someone for a boat to transport him across the fewer than 100 meters of water that separated him from his objective.

This was a very dangerous journey that many thought impossible, and nobody wanted to try to reach the nefarious rocky island; in fact, on the island, there was no human presence, only gigantic reptiles, snakes, and dragons. Julius managed to reach the island thanks to divine intervention, which transformed a simple cloth cloak into a raft. Once he reached the island on his divinely created raft, Julius climbed a rocky buttress and let all the monstrous creatures know that they would need to leave their lairs and abandon the island for good. The largest dragon, in an attempt to escape from Julius, took refuge in a cave on the Bagnera Gulf (Golfo di Bagnera), which is still today called the bus d'l'orchera.

In the sacristy of the church named after Saint Julius, perhaps in reference to the large, hidden dragon, a large vertebra is kept hanging on a thread from the ceiling, seeming to represent the unclean prehistoric times gone by.