In 1582 Charles Borromeo, archbishop of Milan, moved the chapter house of the canons of Galliano from the basilica of San Vincenzo – too far on the outskirts with respect to the city centre – to the church of San Paolo, in the heart of the fortified village of Cantù.
The decline of the basilica of San Vincenzo – already recorded in the seventeenth century in the acts of the pastoral visit of Federico Borromeo (1616) and in the eighteenth century in the tracts of the erudite Dominican Giuseppe Allegranza (1781) – reached its height in 1801 with its deconsecration and sale to private citizens. The church was transformed into a farmhouse and warehouse for farm equipment, with the destruction of the right aisle, the demolition of the atrium and the bell tower, the outer walls’ being tampered with and serious damage to the ambo. The wall paintings, one of the highest level examples of painting in Europe at the beginning of the eleventh century
commissioned by Ariberto da Intimiano, custos of the basilica and future bishop of Milan, were also extensively damaged. The rebirth of the complex, stimulated at the beginning of the twentieth century by Pietro Toesca, began in 1909 with its acquisition on the part
of the city of Cantù. The important architectural restoration work carried out by Ambrogio Annoni in two phases (1912-1913 and 1932-1934) was followed in the course of the twentieth century by different restoration campaigns on the wall paintings entrusted to Mauro Pellicioli and Ottemi Della Rotta. The last campaign was the work of Pinin Brambilla Barcilon (1986-1996/97).