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Meda (Milano): Church of San Vittore

Foto Church of San Vittore
Foto Church of San Vittore
Foto Church of San Vittore
Foto Church of San Vittore
Foto Church of San Vittore
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Places  of historical value  of artistic value around Milan (Italy): Church of San VittoreThe Church of San Vittore is the one of the suppressed Monastery. It was built in the sixteenth century, in place of an earlier one of the tenth-century.
The legend tells that in the early Middle Ages two brothers of the noble Milan family Corio, Aimo and Vermondo, were attacked by wild boars while they were hunting in the woods and had to find refuge on trees. They so vowed to build a monastery in that place in case they could save themselves.
Just after they had vowed the boars moved away quickly. The two young men therefore soon returned in the woods of Meda and built on the hill of the miracle the monastery, to which they gave the Rule of St. Benedict and the name of St. Victor. The Monastery, powerful in the Middle Ages due to the feudal rights which it held and its many possessions (it was so important that in 1194 it was visited by the Emperor Henry VI and his wife Constance of Hauteville, who also spent the night in it), continued to exist until 1798, when it was suppressed along with others by the Cisalpine Republic.

Foto Church of San Vittore
Foto Church of San Vittore
Foto Church of San Vittore
Foto Church of San Vittore
Foto Church of San Vittore

The Church of St. Victor, erected under the Abbess Maria Cleofe Carcano and attributed to the architect Gian Giacomo Dolcebuono, was finished in 1520 and consecrated in 1536. Still a consecrated place, it is one of the best expressions of the late Renaissance in Lombardy, enriched by the baroque facade added in 1730.

The structure and many of the decorations are reminiscent of the Church of San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore in Milan.
The church, inside completely covered with frescoes, is divided into two parts, the "interior", destined to the nuns, and the "exterior", destined to the people. A grate allowed the nuns to follow the service celebrated in the part for the public and a special door allowed them the passage for the communion.

The church is located at the apex of a long staircase, enclosed on both sides by other buildings.
The baroque facade, richly decorated but monochrome, is divided into two orders.
Above the main entrance there is a statue of San Vittore on horseback, while the two upper statues, of the four present, depict the saints Aimo and Vermondo.
The interior has a single nave. All surfaces are covered with frescoes, of late Renaissance epoch.
The side walls are divided into chapels interspersed by pilasters and surmounted by the trabeation. Between the latter and the roof there are wide round windows. The geometric elements of the circle, typical of the Renaissance, can also be found in the portraits of saints present in some lunettes of the chapels, between them and the pilasters and in the trabeation.
Curiously, in the ceiling decoration there is instead present the triangle, except for in the center pane, where the circle reappears.

As for the pictorial decoration, the dominating presence is that of the school of Bernardino Luini, a school that should have operated under the direct guidance of the master. The side chapels - some later renovated compared to the original design - are fully frescoed and adorned with altars, pilasters, cornices, friezes, sails and veils, all richly decorated with various motifs and subjects.
The vault is richly decorated with Renaissance motifs, arabesques and symbols of the Passion of Jesus.
Compared to the Church of San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore in Milan darker tones prevail, in particular for the fact that in the decorations of the ceiling and of the structural elements the dark blue and and dark red dominate, rather than dark orange like is the case in the Milanese church.

The first chapel on the left houses the so-called "Mortorio", a precious wooden group of the XVI century with nine life-size statues by an unknown artist, depicting the Deposition of Christ.
On second altar on the left (central picture), dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary, there is a gilded wooden statue of the Virgin of the eighteenth century, ordered by a noblewoman of Meda belonging to the Fossati family. On the right of it there is Saint Catherine of Alexandria, presenting to the Virgin a nun, who might be the abbess Maria Cleofe Carcano, devoted to Catherine of Alexandria and an well-wisher of the reconstruction of the church in 1520, or Susanna del Bene, Abbess from 1535 and to whose name would allude therefore the biblical episode depicted on the right, the famous scene of Susanna and the Elders. These frescoes are by Giovanni Lomazzo, who inherited the workshop of Luini after his death.

Not less valuable than the side walls is the main altar, of both artistic and religious significance. The urn under the table keeps the remains of Saints and Aimo and Vermondo (the two young people who had taken refuge in trees and which are also depicted in the third chapel on the left, Fig. 4), while over the tabernacle there is the great altarpiece by Giovan Battista Crespi, known as the Cerano, and beside it frescoes attributed to Giulio Campi.
The altarpiece by Cerano, depicting the risen Christ among the Saints Scholastica, Paul, Ambrose, Charles and Victor, was in fact installed only in 1626, in place of the previous altar piece by Antonio Campi, on the occasion of the solemn transfer of the bodies of the saints Aimo and Vermondo, which took place June 14, 1626.

In the third decade of the eighteenth century the current façade, decorated in the lively style called "Barocchetto Lombardo", was added to the original unadorned front.

During the Napoleonic period the internal part of the church was unfortunately turned into a barn and divided into two levels by a partition, later even in a military infirmary. The frescoes on the walls of the chapels remained covered by lime until a few years ago and are less valuable than those of the exterior part of the church.
More valuable are the frescoes in the "Chorus Room" upstairs.

The May 29, 1798 a decree abolished the thousand years old monastery, the nuns are expelled, and the goods were sold at auction.

In October of the following year Giovanni Giuseppe Maunier, rich merchant of Marseilles and French army supplier, bought a part and instructed the famous Vienna architect Leopold Pollack to turn the complex into a neoclassical villa. The rest of the Monastery and the villa was then purchased in 1836 by Giovanni Traversi and from him the complex passed to his descendants and finally to the current owners, the Antona Traversi.
The Church of San Vittore therefore currently belongs to the complex of Villa Antona Traversi.

Categories: Places of historical value of artistic value

Piazza Vittorio Veneto, 4, 20036 Meda MB