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Church of Santa Maria della Pace

Foto Church of Santa Maria della Pace -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of Santa Maria della Pace -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of Santa Maria della Pace -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of Santa Maria della Pace -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of Santa Maria della Pace -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of Santa Maria della Pace -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of Santa Maria della Pace -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of Santa Maria della Pace -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of Santa Maria della Pace -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of Santa Maria della Pace -  Churches / Religious buildings
Show an other treasure of art and history in Milan:
Milan - Churches / Religious buildings: Church of Santa Maria della PaceMostly represented styles: Gothic - Renaissance

The Church of Santa Maria della Pace (Church of Our Lady of Peace) is undoubtedly one of the less known treasures of art and history of Milan, both because not always open to the public, and, even more, because the facade is located in a garden surrounded by high hedges, so that its presence is evident only while you are away and the front part of the building soars over the fence.

The history of the Church of Santa Maria della Pace begins in the fifteenth century, during the rule of the Sforza, a period that saw a great flowering of the architecture in the city of Milan, and is linked to the history of Amedeo Mendes da Silva, noble of Iberian origins who became a Franciscan once he came to Milan. The community which he founded in Milan was a few years later made the subject by the Duchess Bianca Maria Visconti and her son Galeazzo Maria of an important donation and an allocation of a large area, at that time in the perifery of the city, where to settle permanently.
In the third quarter of the fifteenth century the construction of the church and the convent started. The church was consecrated in 1497.
It was dedicated to the Virgin, with the name of Santa Maria della Pace ("Saint Mary of Peace", as hope in a particularly stormy period for the city.

The architecture of Santa Maria della Pace is close to that of other churches in Milan, like San Bernardino alle Monache (the similarity between the facades of the two churches is so strong that it is easy to confuse them), Santa Maria Incoronata, San Pietro in Gessate and Santa Maria delle Grazie (before the intervention of Bramante).
An important element that distinguishes it is, in spite of the size, the presence of a single aisle. This is in accordance with the desire of the preaching orders to have no pillars or columns to hinder the direct contact between the preacher and his audience, contact that had to be as direct as possible, especially in an epoche when there were no microphones and amplification systems. The church, therefore, has a great coverage made of large ribbed voults, in fact the widest ever known, which let the inner space of the nave appear even wider than it actually is.
The church's authorship is doubtful. Some attribute it to Pietro Antonio Solari, others to his father Guiniforte, architect of Santa Maria delle Grazie.

The history of the Church of Santa Maria della Pace is unfortunately very troubled.
The current appearance of the building is the result of a radical restoration carried out in 1997 by the Foundation "Opera for the veneration of the Holy Sepulchre and the Holy Places", which owns the building, which followed to partial restorations of the seventeenth century, which disfigured both the exterior and interior, and to many changes through the course of the nineteenth and the twentieth century, until the damages during the last war.
Unfortunately most of the paintings and frescoes that originally adorned the church were removed. Some works can still be admired in the Pinacoteca di Brera and the Museum of Ancient Art of the Sforza Castle. Too many, however, are irretrievably lost.

The worst troubles were when the church was desecrated, the monastery suppressed and it goods, on June 8, 1805, confiscated by Napoleon. The church property passed, then, to the state and the building was used as artillery warehouse, stables, hospital and even horse riding school.

After several changes of ownership, the church and a part of the original convent became property, in April 1906, of the Congregation of the Sisters of Mary of Reparation, who returned them to worship and to their original function in 1907, when the Archbishop of Milan Andrea Carlo Ferrari presided over the solemn rededication.

In 1967 the church and the convent passed to the Foundation "Opera for the veneration of the Holy Sepulchre and the Holy Places" that acts in coordination with the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.

A still frescoed part of the church (apart from the typical rayed sun decorations on the vault and their highlined ribs) is represented by the vault of the choir, frescoed by the Fiammenghini with scenes of the Life of the Virgin, surmounted by prophets and other figures, this time by Chignoli. In the vault of the apse it remains today, of the decoration by Tanzio da Varallo, the Annunciation to the Shepherds, an Adoration of the Shepherds and in the center, Angels in flight carrying the scroll bearing the angelic hymn "Gloria in excelsis ...", which the experts place between 1630 and 1633.

Of particular interest and virtually unknown are then the decorations of the sixth and seventh chapel (now hosting the representative offices of the Lieutenancy for Italy Northern Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and therefore not accessible). Dating back to the second half of the sixteenth century, the two decorative interventions were part of the fervent renewal activities that met the Milanese churches at the time of Carlo Borromeo.

A special mention also deserve the remains of frescos found in conjunction with the recent restoration of what remains of the structure that originally divided the choir area from the rest of the nave. This structure should have been like a sort of bridge connecting the two sides of the church and it also served as a small stage. It was later removed completely, so that even the memory of its exact position was lost.

Finally the valuable organ should be mentioned, built by Pietro Bernasconi in 1891 and restored in the late twentieth century with the church.

Whereas even now the church has a remarkable charm and beauty, you can not help but think with regret to how magnificent it must have been in the beginning when all the frescoes and the works of art later removed were still in place.


If you are interested in a guided tour of this monument send an email!

Categories: Churches / Religious buildings

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