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Church of San Cristoforo at the Naviglio

Foto Church of San Cristoforo at the Naviglio -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of San Cristoforo at the Naviglio -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of San Cristoforo at the Naviglio -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of San Cristoforo at the Naviglio -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of San Cristoforo at the Naviglio -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of San Cristoforo at the Naviglio -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of San Cristoforo at the Naviglio -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of San Cristoforo at the Naviglio -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of San Cristoforo at the Naviglio -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of San Cristoforo at the Naviglio -  Churches / Religious buildings
Show an other treasure of art and history in Milan:
Milan - Churches / Religious buildings: Church of San Cristoforo at the NaviglioMostly represented styles: Romanesque - Gothic

The Church of San Cristoforo on the Naviglio is another treasure of art and history of Milan off the beaten track.

It is in fact composed of two churches of different eras, built adjacent and with the dividing wall was demolished in 1625.

The oldest part is the left one, built in 1192 in place of an even older church. It was located at a strategic point along one of the waterways that led to Milan. The semicircular apse, which, although much restored still retains some of the original decoration, was added in 1270.
The current coffered roof covers the original trussed roof.
Starting from 1363 a hospital for pilgrims was built next to it. At the same time also the church was renovated, especially with the addition of the portal and the beautiful brick interlace rays rose window in Gothic style above it.
To note, above the rose window, the coats of arms of the Visconti, of the city of Milan and that with the cardinal hat and the radiating sun between the stars of the Cardinal Pietro Filargo da Candia (1339-1410), bishop of Milan and then pope (antipope) with the Name of Alexander V.

The church on the right, commonly called the Ducal Chapel, was built between 1398 and 1403 and comprises a nave with two bays and a small choir. It was built under the patronage of Gian Galeazzo Visconti and is therefore also known as the Visconti Chapel.
It was wanted in 1398 by a confraternity of citizens in memory of the victory against Giovanni d'Armagnac near Alessandria in the year 1391, exactly July 25 (day of the anniversary of Saint Christopher) and built on land granted by the Duke, who also contributed financially to the construction. It would therefore be unfounded the tradition according to which the right church would have been built by vote of the citizens of Milan following a new serious epidemic.
Its facade is characterized by the presence of two high single lancet windows. Also in this case, the door is surmounted by the coats of arms of the Visconti family and of the city of Milan.
The bell tower seems to have been built at the same time as the original church was built, and not at the same time as the construction of the Ducal chapel; in the Baroque epoch it would have then been raised and the cusp would have been added to it.
It deserves to be emphasized the strong similarity between the right half of the Church of San Cristoforo and the Oratory of St. John the Baptist in Settimo Milanese, half a century younger and slightly smaller.

Both internally and externally, there are several frescoes, some sadly no longer in good condition. And anyway, especially outside, the frescoes were originally many more. The Madonna Enthroned with Child on the left wall is perhaps the Borgognone.

Particularly worth a mention are the frescoes above the great arch in the left church, frescoes that were only recently made visible again by removing a span of the ceiling .
The surface looking toward the ground of the great arch is decorated with rounds depicting half-busted apostles. In the vault of the apse, the frescoes show in the center the Eternal Father and on his sides the symbols of the four Evangelists. The frame dividing the figures is typical of the Lombard Renaissance.

The lower area, in which the original Gothic single lancet windows have been rediscovered inside the rectangular Renaissance frameworks, shows four figures of saints in full size: in the center St. John Baptist and St. Jacob, on the sides Catherine of Siena and Cristina.

Noteworthy is the torn fresco of a Blessing Christ that can be seen left of the great arch. It is a work of Byzantine influence of the end of the XII century or of the beginning of the XIII century, a real rarity in the territory of Milan. There is no information about the tearing. Conserved in the sacristy it underwent an important restoration work in 2013 and after that it was placed in the present position of the church.

Of the frescoes on the left wall it is still possible to recognize the right side of a great Majesty or Madonna on Throne with Child surrounded by saints, of the late-fifteenth century and similar to the better preserved one that was later partially overlaid to it. The remaining saints may be Mary Magdalene, John the Baptist, and Antonio Abate. The other fresco, almost entirely preserved and that should be attributed to the same master who painted the frescoes of the vault of the apse, presents a Madonna surrounded by the saints Rocco, Antonio, Augustine and Sebastiano.

Very beautiful are also the frescoes in the Ducal Chapel.
In the upper part of the facade it is still possible to recognize a group of saints of the 15th century. At the center you can see the encounter of Mary with Elizabeth.
The frescoes on the counterfacade have been enhanced by a recent restoration. Below there is a crucifixion, while at the top you can admire a Madonna on Throne side by side with two saints. On the right for the observer there is Saint Christopher, on the left St. Anthony Abbot with two kneeling bidders under him. It is one of the rare frescoes of the early fifteenth century with the signature of the author, Bassanolo de Magistris. Note the similarities of this Madonna in Throne with the one present in the Abbey of Viboldone on the wall above the access arc of the apse.
Consistent with the Crucifixion, the two holy bishops in the side panels.
On the vault of the first span it is still possible to recognizes a scene of the Dormant Saints.
A further late-fifteenth crucifixion is still visible on the bottom wall, despite the mutilations due to the installation of a no longer present large monumental altar.

Special attention due to the quality of the painting and for the devotion she has always been subjected to, deserves the Madonna with Child in Luinesque style in the center of the back wall, protected by glass.

The church also houses three valuable statues of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, one of St. Christopher and two of St. Joseph.

On the back of the sacristy there is the so-called "chapel of the deads", erected on the occasion of the plague described by Manzoni, during which, taking up the ancient vocation, the complex of Saint Christopher served as Lazzaretto.

Finally we want also to mention the wonderfully decorated windows of the Ducal Chapel. Unfortunately it was impossible to find any documentation.


Finally, the three decorated windows of the Ducal Chapel must be mentioned. These look like three ancient windows, but in fact they are recent ones, with which the previous windows with non-colored glas rounds have been replaced. Although of impact, they tend to make the church too dark and make the delicate colors of the frescoes difficult to recognize.

The small church of San Cristoforo is one of Milan's most evocative churches and represents a real fragment of late Middle Ages in the modern Milan. A visit is recommended!

Other pictures of the Church of San Cristoforo on the Naviglio in the section Photography of this web site

Sources:
www.chiesasancristoforo.it/
Pagina su Wikipedia

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

Categories: Churches / Religious buildings


Via San Cristoforo 3, 20144 Milano
Further pictures of the Church of San Cristoforo at the Naviglio in the section Photography
Milano: Decorated window in the Church of San Cristoforo on the Naviglio
Milano: Left apse of the Church of San Cristoforo on the Naviglio
Milano: Vault of the left apse of the Church of San Cristoforo on the Naviglio
Milano: Frescoes of the vault of the left apse of the Church of San Cristoforo on the Naviglio