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Church of Santa Maria alla Porta

Foto Church of Santa Maria alla Porta -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of Santa Maria alla Porta -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of Santa Maria alla Porta -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of Santa Maria alla Porta -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of Santa Maria alla Porta -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of Santa Maria alla Porta -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of Santa Maria alla Porta -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of Santa Maria alla Porta -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of Santa Maria alla Porta -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of Santa Maria alla Porta -  Churches / Religious buildings
Show an other treasure of art and history in Milan:
Milan - Churches / Religious buildings: Church of Santa Maria alla PortaMostly represented styles: Baroque

HISTORY
The current Church of Santa Maria alla Porta (St. Mary at the Gate) was built starting from 1652, but previous versions of the church are documented at least as early as the twelfth century. The name derives from its proximity to the Vercellina Gate of the Roman walls.
The history of the construction of the church visible today has its roots in the accidental discovery, on an external wall of the previous church, under a layer of incrustations, of an ancient image of the Virgin with Child on her lap (Fig. 3), to which a miracle was immediately attributed, in the form of a grace granted even to the same bricklayer who had just brought it to light. The news spread and quickly led to a large influx of visiting devotees, and therefore also of offerings.
It was so decided to use these offerings for the construction of a new church in place of the previous one, now requiring repairs.
The works began in 1652, under the direction of the architect Francesco Maria Richini. On his death in 1658, Francesco Castelli took over. To him essentially only the central portal is due.
At the end of the seventeenth century a special chapel was built for the above miraculous image. Already in 1705 it was replaced by a more sumptuous one that remained unchanged until 1943, when the bombings of the Second World War led to its complete destruction. However, its remains are still recognizable on the external right side of the building (Fig. 2).
In the second half of the eighteenth century the previous wooden altar was replaced by the current one in marble, designed in 1764 by Giovanni Antonio Richini and built by Antonio Giudice.
In 1825 a clock supported by two angels was inserted into the pediment of the facade.
Between 1848 and 1857 the church was enlarged, with its extension on the rear side and the addition of rooms on the sides of the presbytery.
In 1857 a crypt with three naves was also added (not shown on this page) in which tombstones, remains of tombs and funerary inscriptions were transferred.
In the same period the facade was also completed, through the addition of statues of saints in the four niches: St. Ambrose and St. Charles in the two above, now lost, and St. Louis and St. Maurice in the two lower ones.
The bombings of 1943 led not only to the destruction of the chapel containing the sacred image, but also to the loss of the two upper statues of saints and to the damage to the relief placed in the center of the facade.

STRUCTURE
The facade of the church has two orders and ends at the top with a classic tympanum. It is divided vertically into three parts by granite columns on two orders, with those of the lower order resting on very high pedestals. The central section is markedly wider than the two lateral ones. The latter include the side entrances and four niches on two levels, of which only the lower two have kept the corresponding statues (see above). The central section includes in the lower order the great portal designed by Castelli and surmounted by a tympanum which rests on the entablature of the first order. Between the central door and the entablature there is a relief depicting the Coronation of the Virgin sculpted by Carlo Simonetta in 1670. At the center of the upper order there is instead a large rectangular window.
The interior has a single nave, with two chapels on each side. The vault is barrel vaulted with lunettes and stucco-decorated ribs and rests on a very protruding cornice that runs along the entire perimeter, including the choir.
The four side chapels open like serlianas towards the nave, are alternated by arches enclosing tribunes and all have the same structure: shallow, with a barrel-vaulted roof and separated from the nave by a marble balustrade (added in the eighteenth century). The side chapels preserve a rich testimony of Lombard sculptures of the seventeenth century.
First chapel on the left: (Fig. 5, 9) It is dedicated to Santa Maria Maddalena. The decoration was apparently made not by Carlo Simonetta, but by one of his pupils, Stefano Sampietro. Note the somewhat heavy realism of the statues, more typical for Sacred Mountains than for a church of an important city. The altar has a frontal depicting the Magdalene in the desert.
Second chapel on the left: (Fig. 6) It is dedicated to St. Joseph.
First chapel on the right: (Fig. 4) Chapel of the Crucifix. It was conceived by Giuseppe Quadrio and built by Carlo Simonetta between 1680 and 1684. He is responsible for the Glory above the altarpiece and the Angels on the sides.
Second chapel on the right: (Fig. 7) Chapel of the Sacred Heart.
The Baroque high altar is made of polychrome marble and rich in stones and gilded bronzes. The frontal consists of a gilded bronze medallion depicting the prophet Elijah sleeping in the desert under a juniper during the escape from the persecutions of Ahab and Jezebel, with the angel who wakes him up to show him the bread and water.
The dome (Fig. 8) is almost invisible from the outside, hidden by the facade and the church being wedged between other buildings. On the inner side of the tiburium there are four statues of angels by Giuseppe Vismara and Carlo Simonetta sculpted in 1662 in four niches. The frescoes on the inner face of the dome seem to be from the late nineteenth century (but it was not possible to find information about them) and depict the Assumption of Mary surrounded by musician angels.
On the walls under the dome there are two choirs, one on each side, richly decorated and each equipped with an organ. A further organ, larger, is then present in the central apse. Below it there is a sober and elegant wooden choir of 1770 with two orders.
The sacristy contains antique furniture in carved wood and an Adoration of the Magi by Camillo Procaccini.

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

Categories: Churches / Religious buildings


Via Santa Maria alla Porta, 10, 20123 Milano MI
Further pictures of the Church of Santa Maria alla Porta in the section Photography
Milano: Interior of the Church of Santa Maria alla Porta
Milano: Ceiling of the presbytery of the Church of Santa Maria alla Porta
Milano: Chapel of the Crucifix in the Church of Santa Maria alla Porta
Milano: Presbytery and choir of the Church of Santa Maria alla Porta