Eremo di San Colombano monastery is notable for its location in the side of a mountain. Some natural caves, halfway up the rock wall of the gorge formed by the stream of Leno Vallarsa were certainly used from 753 AD (the date inscribed on the rock) from a Monaco hermit.
According to legend, the hermit San Colombano first arrived there and killed the dragon that caused the death of children baptised in the waters of the river below Leno. More likely, the legend was born as a place from the first hermit monks from the nearby monastery of Bobbio, or the Priory of St. Columban Bardolino. Visitation to the site was prescribed during Lent.
Between the late tenth and early 11th century, records indicate the first construction of a small church dedicated to the saint at the opening of the cave, under a roof of natural rock. The first documentary evidence of the presence of the Hermitage and the church are one of 1319, relating to a bequest made to the Church of St. Columba on the part of Count William of Castelbarco of the House of Lords of Lizzana and Rovereto, and the other, 1470, is still preserved in Lizzana, attesting to the faith of the inhabitants of the place with celebrations and processions to the Irish saint to avert the long drought.
The hermitage of the hermit's cave was used by monks, hermits, who were its guardians, until 1782 when the practice of the hermitage was abolished. Since then the place of worship was later cared for by the inhabitants of the valley.
The province of Trent in 1996 restored the church, and the opening to the public is maintained by a group of volunteers gathered in the Committee Friends of St. Columban.
The hermitage is accessed by a staircase of 102 steps carved into rock. Frescoes depict the fight between St. Columba and a dragon (an allegory of the struggle between good and evil), as well as the representation of Paradise, located in the cave. Another fresco with 'Madonna and Saints' is the fifteenth-century altar of the church and keeps recordings with prayers and candles dated between 1505 and 1782, witnessed the pilgrimage to the shrine.References:
The Kalozha church of Saints Boris and Gleb is the oldest extant structure in Hrodna. It is the only surviving monument of ancient Black Ruthenian architecture, distinguished from other Orthodox churches by prolific use of polychrome faceted stones of blue, green or red tint which could be arranged to form crosses or other figures on the wall.
The church is a cross-domed building supported by six circular pillars. The outside is articulated with projecting pilasters, which have rounded corners, as does the building itself. The ante-nave contains the choir loft, accessed by a narrow gradatory in the western wall. Two other stairs were discovered in the walls of the side apses; their purpose is not clear. The floor is lined with ceramic tiles forming decorative patterns. The interior was lined with innumerable built-in pitchers, which usually serve in Eastern Orthodox churches as resonators but in this case were scored to produce decorative effects. For this reason, the central nave has never been painted.
The church was built before 1183 and survived intact, depicted in the 1840s by Michał Kulesza, until 1853, when the south wall collapsed, due to its perilous location on the high bank of the Neman. During restoration works, some fragments of 12th-century frescoes were discovered in the apses. Remains of four other churches in the same style, decorated with pitchers and coloured stones instead of frescoes, were discovered in Hrodna and Vaŭkavysk. They all date back to the turn of the 13th century, as do remains of the first stone palace in the Old Hrodna Castle.
In 2004, the church was included in the Tentative List of UNESCO"s World Heritage Sites.