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Settimo Milanese (Milano): Oratory of San Giovanni Battista

Foto Oratory of San Giovanni Battista
Foto Oratory of San Giovanni Battista
Foto Oratory of San Giovanni Battista
Foto Oratory of San Giovanni Battista
Foto Oratory of San Giovanni Battista
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Places  of historical value  of artistic value around Milan (Italy): Oratory of San Giovanni BattistaThe Oratory of St. John the Baptist ("Oratorio di San Giovanni Battista") is located in Cascine Olona, ??a quarter of Settimo Milanese, in the past a separated fraction. It is therefore in the immediate vicinity of Milan.
In the late nineteenth century it was almost torn down to make room for the "Gamba de Legn", the little train that linked Milan with Magenta. Fortunately a vist by a group of experts allowed to rediscover the frescoes, long forgotten, and insert the small church among the national monuments.

The date of construction of the oratory is known exactly because on a tombstone right of the entrance, where it is possible to read exacly "This church was built and consecrated by the work of Sir Paolo Mantegazza in honor of St. John the Baptist in the year 1468".

The small church is built in late Lombard Gothic style, and therefore, as typical, completely in bricks, with already some elements of at that time new Renaissance trends visible at the level of the frescoes inside.
It comprises a single nave, with a gabled roof. The presbytery, rectangular and with a cross vault, is proportionately quite large and divided from the nave by a large arch.
On the right front corner of the building there is a small bell tower harmoniously integrated with the rest of the church. Curious is its tip, a cone formed by round bricks.
According to some experts, the Oratory of San Giovanni Battista in Cascine Olona could even be attributed to a member of the Solari family, the famous dynasty of architects active in the Milan of the Sforza.
It is worth noting its strong similarity in particular with the right part of the Church of San Cristoforo on the Naviglio in Milan, just few decades older.

The thing that makes the oratory special are the frescos in its interior, which constitute one of the most beautiful and best preserved examples of "minor" painting in Lombardy; the author remains unknown, though the experts have advanced various hypotheses. The paintings depict stories of St. John the Baptist, the Four Doctors of the Church, the Annunciation, the Adoration of the Magi, the Crucifixion, the Story of the San Giuliano Hospital (completely lost), the Last Judgement. The state of preservation of the frescoes is generally good, although further consolidation measures of the paintings would be welcome.
The frescoes dedicated to St. John the Baptist are largely divided into panels, almost like in a comic book, with each panel representing a specific episode in the life of the saint. This organization of the frescoes was frequent at that time (see for example also the Oratory of Santo Stefano in Lentate sul Seveso) and was functional to the transmission of the sacred stories to a largely illiterate audience.
Although much less refined than many of the frescoes in the larger and more famous churches in Milan of the same period, the frescoes in the Oratory of St. John the Baptist in Cascine Olona are nevertheless of great impact and emotional involvement. Technically better and better finished are perhaps the frescoes of the Doctors of the Church on the presbytery. The most vivid figures, however, are those found on the walls. Truly noteworthy the fighting angel on the right side of the interior of the facade, that even somehow remembers some characters from Japanese cartoons of the '80s.
Finally we also like to mention the terracotta statuette of the saint in the lunette above the entrance door.

For a more detailed description of the frescoes, please refer to the page The Oratorio San Giovanni Battista in Cascine Olona of the website of proloco of Settimo Milanese.

Categories: Places of historical value of artistic value


Via A. Gramsci, 31, 20019 Settimo Milanese MI, Italia
Foto aggiuntive della Oratorio di San Giovanni Battista nella sezione Fotografia
Settimo Milanese (Milano): Wall in the Oratory of San Giovanni Battista
Settimo Milanese (Milano): Frescoed voult of the presbytery of the Oratory of San Giovanni Battista
Settimo Milanese (Milano): Frescoes of doctors of the Church on the voult of the aps of the Oratory of San Giovanni Battista
Settimo Milanese (Milano): Ceiling of the aps of the Oratory of San Giovanni Battista