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Church of Santa Maria Rossa in Crescenzago

Foto Church of Santa Maria Rossa in Crescenzago -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of Santa Maria Rossa in Crescenzago -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of Santa Maria Rossa in Crescenzago -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of Santa Maria Rossa in Crescenzago -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of Santa Maria Rossa in Crescenzago -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of Santa Maria Rossa in Crescenzago -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of Santa Maria Rossa in Crescenzago -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of Santa Maria Rossa in Crescenzago -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of Santa Maria Rossa in Crescenzago -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Church of Santa Maria Rossa in Crescenzago -  Churches / Religious buildings
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Milan - Churches / Religious buildings: Church of Santa Maria Rossa in CrescenzagoMostly represented styles: Romanesque

The Church of Santa Maria Rossa in Crescenzago is another sacred building with very ancient origins, but little known to the general public. Located in the north-eastern outskirts of Milan, it was originally located in a small country village.
The church overlooks a small square of a small street that has preserved the atmosphere of times gone by.

HISTORY
The construction of the Church of Santa Maria Rossa in Crescenzago, remodeled several times and subject to arbitrary restoration works, dates back to the end of the 12th century; later, precisely, to the institution of the rectory of Santa Maria di Crescenzago. The current building was built on the site where a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary previously stood. The oldest document referring to the church dates back to 1153.
In 1322 Matteo Visconti, lord of Milan, after being excommunicated, moved as an exile to the Rectory of Crescenzago (of which the church described on this page was part) and was buried there.
In 1772 Cardinal Pozzobonelli suppressed the rectory of Santa Maria di Crescenzago, which became a simple parish.
In the 20s of the twentieth century the church underwent extensive restoration work, including the reconstruction of the facade, during which the round windows previously present, except the one in the center at the top, were replaced with single lancet windows and the frescoes present in the lunettes of the portals were replaced with mosaics.
Inside, important elements up to the 40s have been added, making the church a curious melting pot of structural and artistic elements from extremely different eras.

STRUCTURE
The church was built at the transition between Romanesque and Gothic and therefore has elements of both styles. It is entirely in exposed brick, but its overall structure cannot be appreciated from the outside, as it is sandwiched between other buildings.

The facade is gabled and wider than high. On the sides it is framed by two sturdy corner pilasters surmounted by pinnacles in bricks added in modern times. Two other smaller pilasters, from which two semi-columns rise, underline the internal division of the building. The decorations present are few: the hanging arches immediately under the roof typical of the Italian Romanesque, the modern mosaics in the lunettes of the three portals and some colored ceramic bowls inserted during the restoration of the 1920s.

At the rear the church has three semicircular apses. This is the oldest part of the building and perhaps dates back to the previous construction of the 9th - 10th century. The three apses are supported externally by buttresses, also present along the sides of the building. The apses also have the typical decoration with hanging arches.

The bell tower rises above the last span of the right aisle and was originally lower. It was raised to its current height at the end of the sixteenth century; the lower part still has the original typically Romanesque masonry, while the added upper part is the only part of the church not in exposed brick.

The interior is divided into three naves, with the central one approximately twice as wide as the lateral ones. The transept is absent. Each nave is divided into five spans, with the first shorter than the others. The coverage is supported by eight large pillars. Of these, the first four are cylindrical and in brick, the next two cylindrical but in stone and the last two, those closest to the apse, have a cruciform beam and rise up to support the transverse arch. All the vaults of the naves are cross vaults, with those of the central nave having ribs. It should be noted that if the arches of the central nave are all acute, there are also round arches, to underline the coexistence, in the church, of Gothic and Romanesque.
The single lancet windows on the walls are fake antique, as they were added during the restoration of the 1920s.
Of particular historical and artistic value is the vault of the span of the central nave closest to the presbytery, also known as the vault of the Lamb, which still retains most of the original Romanesque frescoes. In the center there is a round with the representation of the Agnus Dei, that is a lamb symbol of the passion of Christ. The four sails, colored light blue, are separated by four bands decorated with plant motifs. Each sail houses a medallion with an adoring angel inside. Note the presence, in one of the sails, of an additional round. It was originally open with a view to the outside. According to tradition, the head of the deceased was placed under it during the funeral, to symbolize the path of ascension of the soul to heaven.
The other three spans of the main nave are decorated in a simpler way: the ribs are in exposed brick and the sails are decorated with eight-pointed stars of various shapes and size and purely decorative rounds in the middle.
The counter-fa├žade houses a large Last Supper by Carlo Morgari from the first half of the twentieth century.
The neo-Romanesque pulpit (Fig. 2), the holy water fonts and the stations of the via crucis date back to 1929 and are works of Gualtiero Anelli.

The church is equipped with lateral chapels only on the left side, erected starting from the fifteenth century. On the right there are niches of various sizes.
Baptistery (Fig. 5): It is the first chapel on the left and was originally dedicated to Saint Catherine of Alexandria.
In the lunettes there are remains of Renaissance frescoes attributed to Cesare da Sesto. A seventeenth century crucifix has been placed on the back wall. On the right wall there is instead a reproduction of a triptych by Ambrogio da Fossano, also called Bergognone (the original is kept in the Diocesan Museum of Milan). The work depicts, in the center, Santa Caterina d'Alessandria, Sant'Agnese on the left and Santa Cecilia on the right. The patrons of the work kneel under them.
Chapel of the Virgin of the Rosary (Fig. 6): It is the only chapel where decorations from the Baroque period are still present. The ceiling is in fact decorated with a quadrature to simulate a skylight embellished with vases and plant shoots.
The retable on the bottom has a large niche in the center, inside which there is a large seventeenth-century statue of the Virgin of the Rosary. On the side walls two paintings by Luigi Morgari: on the left the Nativity, on the right the Last Supper. Finally, under the arch of the entrance arch, the Mysteries of the Rosary are depicted, created together with the decoration of the ceiling.
Chapel of the Crucifix: The third chapel on the right houses a large nineteenth century crucifix in the retable. The modern seminato floor has a beautiful mosaic in the center which depicts the Agnus Dei, echoing the one present on the vault next to the presbytery.
At the base of the hemispherical vault with the symbols of the passion have been brought back to light.

On the right, starting from the entrance, there are:
Niche of St. Gratus, Bishop of Aosta: The saint is depicted on the back wall. The niche was created after the Second World War as an ex voto because the church had been spared from bombing.
Niche of Saint Anthony of Padua: On the right wall there is in turn a small niche protected by a grate with the shape of the fingers of a hand hollowed out.
Niche of the Virgin of Caravaggio: It is larger than the others and is protected by a wrought iron balustrade.
Also on the right side there are other smaller niches:
Niche of Saints Joachim and Anna, Mary's parents. All three are depicted on the back wall, in a painting made by Carlo Morgari in 1942. Note that in the right wall there is a large and deep compartment, closed by a grate, which ends with a sarcophagus.
Niche of St. Nicholas to the right of the entrance to the sacristy.
Niche di Saint Lucia to the left of the entrance to the sacristy. It is closed by a wrought iron gate.
Niche of Mary Child: It is located at the end of the right aisle. The painting on the wall was made by Luigi Morgari in 1941.

Presbytery and central apse are the area where the most valuable elements of the church are concentrated. The apse is dominated by the frescoes in the apsidal basin, the central part of which is occupied by a large Christ Pantocrator inside of a rainbow almond. Christ is depicted seated on a throne while with his right hand he blesses and with his left hand he holds a book on which is written "SUM DOMINUS MUNDI LUX CELI REXQUE PROFUNDI IMPERO DISPONO STRUO DESTRUO DAMNOQUE CORONO". The symbols of the four evangelists are depicted around him, while the Virgin Mary is recognizable on the far left and St. John the Baptist on the far right.
The apse was originally supposed to be completely frescoed, but today what remains of these frescoes is only the part that was hidden by a choir removed in modern times. In the lower part of the walls it is therefore recognizable a velarium that simulates a white drapery. At the far left a scene containing a high prelate on his deathbed.
Above the velarium the lower parts of twelve human figures are recognizable, no longer identifiable with certainty.
The barrel vault is occupied by a cycle of frescoes dedicated to the Transitio Virginis and comprising four panels. In the first, at the bottom left, the Second Annunciation is depicted, that is the Archangel Michael who foretells her next death to Mary. In the second, on the left towards the nave, the death of the Virgin is depicted, lying on her deathbed surrounded by the apostles. In the third panel, at the bottom right, there is the funeral of the Virgin and, finally, in the fourth the Assumption of Mary.
The frescoes in the apse and presbytery were definitely made before 1382. Exactly when is not known.
The rest of the vault, divided in two by a decorative band, presents symbolic figures enclosed in medallions. On the left are griffins, on the right rampant lions. Originally there must have been 24 medallions on each side, today unfortunately many have been completely lost.
The main altar is in brick covered in marble and dates back to 1783.
The two side apses are occupied by modern altars dedicated to the Sacred Heart (the one on the left) and to St. Joseph (the one on the right). In both the apse is occupied by allegorical paintings by Carlo Morgari.

Finally, a study by Claudio Bianchi deserves to be mentioned, according to which the entire church can be interpreted as an allegorical representation of the book of the Apocalypse. This interpretation would also explain the presence of some curious details, such as, for example, the presence of a small human head on the last left stone pillar towards the presbytery.

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

Categories: Churches / Religious buildings


via Domenico Berra , 11 20132 Milano (MI)
Further pictures of the Church of Santa Maria Rossa in Crescenzago in the section Photography
Milano: Christ Pantocrator in the Church of Santa Maria Rossa in Crescenzago
Milano: Vault of the presbytery and apsidal basin of the Church of Santa Maria Rossa in Crescenzago
Milano: Apsidal basin of the Church of Santa Maria Rossa in Crescenzago
Milano: Chapel of the Virgin of the Rosary in the Church of Santa Maria Rossa in Crescenzago
Milano: Facade of the Church of Santa Maria Rossa in Crescenzago
Milano: Ineriors of the Church of Santa Maria Rossa in Crescenzago
Milano: Altar and aps of the Church of Santa Maria Rossa in Crescenzago
Milano: Frescos inside the Church of Santa Maria Rossa in Crescenzago
Milano: Inerior of the Church of Santa Maria Rossa in Crescenzago