camminacitta

 

The walk of the Breastfeeding Madonnas

Stage 1 – From the Basilica of S. Vincenzo (St. Vincent) of Galliano to the Sanctuary of the Beata Vergine dei Miracoli (Blessed Virgin of Miracles)

Our Lady of the MilkBasilica of S. Vincenzo (St. Vincent) of GallianoBaptistery of S. Giovanni (St. John) of GallianoSanctuary of the Beata Vergine dei Miracoli (Blessed Virgin of Miracles)

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Our Lady of the Milk

Description

(Silvia Fasana)

The “Our Lady of the Milk” or “Breastfeeding Madonna”, Virgo lactans in Latin, from an iconography’s point of view, is a Madonna who feeds the Holy Child with milk while uncovering her breast. It is a widespread devotion, documented since the origin of Christendom, especially in the countryside during the XIV-XVI centuries, addressing a very precise need for many women: a divine help to solve the many problems concerning motherhood, birth and breast-feeding. The ancestral themes of fertility, generation and birth find their roots in the popular culture since the antiquity, to the point that, from an anthropological point of view, the figure of the breastfeeding Madonna is strictly tied to those of the prehistorical Venus, of Isis and of the great Mother Goddesses. After the Council of Trento (1545-1563) this Madonna was considered “improper”, embarrassing and, as such, progressively dropped. The Archbishops of Milan themselves, St. Carlo Borromeo and his cousin Federico, looked forward to aligning and addressing holy painting and arts in the Milanese area towards greater dignity and religious rigour.

Many paintings of the breastfeeding Madonna, especially in the XVIII-XIX centuries, were censored, covered or renamed, to the point of being replaced by images of the Madonna of the Rosary, or of the Immaculate Virgin, that is, by expressions of changed religious models and needs.

With their modest and humble gesture of breast-feeding, so motherly and human, the breastfeeding Madonnas still translate in everyday terms a key theological concept, indeed the outstanding expression of the novelty of the Christian message: the Incarnation of God. This message is so important, to be expressed by a tender and familiar figure, close to everyday happiness and sufferings, to the difficulty and greatness to be a woman, a mother and, at the same time, the powerful mediator with her own son, who is God, to achieve material and spiritual graces. The ethnographer Natale Perego pointed out that: «the image of the breast-feeding Madonna brings us back to ages when children were born with much greater frequency, were considered a present from God, and when genuflecting in front of the Virgin Mary took its sense from the sacredness ingrained with life, and the sense of mystery of seeing a new being coming to life in a mother’s womb. This belief, this awareness, were the cultural foundation that gave sense and legitimated the devotion for the “breast-feeding Madonna”, a belief that today is more and more difficult to find».

In Cantù the “Madonna Bella” (Beautiful Madonna) was painted on a wall right out the medieval gate of Campo Rotondo; the Madonnina di San Paolo (St. Paul’s Little Madonna) was originally painted on a stretch of the city walls besides Porta Ferraia; another Madonna, in S. Antonio, was found aside the west entrance point to the city, and, at the same time, other images of the Virgin Mary have been signaled in San Rocco (formerly Coldonico) and Porta Sant’Ambrogio (Saint Ambrogio’s Gate). Graziano Alfredo Vergani writes about the attribution of a sacred value to the entrances of the city, a visible request of protection: documented sources show that in Cantù, as in other places, the entrances were often decorated with sacred images, «at times devotional paintings were placed close to the city gates, at times oratories were built on the sides of the gates, or greater and relevant churches were situated along the roads that led out of the city, just before the gates».

To know more:

N, Perego, Una Madonna da nascondere. La devozione per la “Madonna del latte” in Brianza, nel lecchese e nel triangolo lariano, Cattaneo Editore, Oggiono 2005.

Galliano

Basilica of S. Vincenzo (St. Vincent) of Galliano

Information

Location: the Basilica of S. Vincenzo (St. Vincent), together with the nearby baptistery of S. Giovanni, is built on a grass turf at the top of a moraine hill, on the west side of the historical centre of Cantù, within a fenced area in via San Vincenzo 7.

Access: from the front door.

Paving: the space in front of the Basilica is grassy; sheets of stone show the original perimeter of the church as wanted by the Archbishop Ariberto da Intimiano (XI century). The interior is paved with bricks; the stairs that lead to the apse and to the crypt are built in stone.

Architectural barriers: the fenced area is accessed by four stone steps. To enter the Basilica, pass a low stone threshold. Two flights of stairs, one on the left side and the other on the right, descend in the crypt with eight steps. To ascend to the presbytery you need to rise a central flight of stairs in nine steps.

Services: parking available; bus stops; the Cantù hospital is situated in the neighbourhood, in via Domea 4.

Leisure and Food: a small stone fountain in front of the Basilica. Bars, restaurants and shops are available nearby.

Other information: for opening times, call 031.701393 (Parish of S. Paolo – Secretary) or 031.717446 and 031.717491 (Municipality of Cantù).

A bronze model of the Basilica and of the baptistery, built by Claudio Caimi, was placed in July 2007 near the entrance of the Basilica, The model was donated by the Cantù Lyons Club, in order to enable visually impaired guests to appreciate the architectural details of the complex.

Relates monuments: baptistery of S. Giovanni.

Description

(Silvia Fasana)

Archaeological remains suggest that on the hill of Galliano a small early christian church already existed in the 5th century, used as site of burial. This is confirmed by the  presence of many tombstones. This church was probably built on the remains of a former pagan place, of which some traces still exist. In the VIII century, in the Carolingian age, the church became a parish, and it is very likely that, on that occasion, it was enlarged to cope with the needs of a growing community. The most important initiative, however, is due to Ariberto da Intimiano (967-1045) who was nominated custodian of the church before being appointed as archbishop of Milan. Having discovered the bones of priests Adeodato, Ecclesio, of the deacon Savino and of Manifredo, revered as saints, Ariberto promoted a great work of renovation and decoration of the building; the fresco decoration of the apse and of the walls of the main nave were also completed in this period. Once the works were completed, on July 2, 1007, Ariberto consecrated the Basilica and dedicated it to San Vincenzo (Saint Vincent) of Saragozza. In 1582 San Carlo Borromeo transferred the vicarage to the church of S. Paolo, and S. Vincenzo progressively decayed; in 1798 it was desecrated, sold to private citizens and used as a farmhouse.

Only at the beginning of the last century, due to the renewed interest for the historical and artistic legacy, the Basilica of Galliano was included in the official list of the National Monuments; in May 1909, the last private owner sold the building to the Municipality of Cantù. The Basilica was restored during a long period of time; in 1934 it was reconsecrated by cardinal Schuster and in May 1986, after another cycle of restoration works, re-opened again as a site of worship.

The plain facade anticipates the internal partition in three naves; the right nave was lost in the 19th century; the right flank of the central nave is now closed by a large glass window. Other parts of the original building that have been lost are the bell tower and a large porch; the original perimeter of the Basilica is shown today by a sheet of stones.

The headstone of dedication of the church by Ariberto da Intimiano, dated in 1007, as well as the tombstone of Adeodato, have been placed on the wall of the left nave, in the interior.

The presbytery, which is placed above the ground floor because of the presence of the crypt, is enriched by the magnificent 9th century decoration, which has been defined by the arts historians Marco Rossi and Manuela Beretta «a point of pictorial excellence at European level, of extraordinary formal quality». The unknown author was able to merge together the Byzantine culture and the Western late ancient style. In the centre of the apse, at the top, stands the mighty image of Cristo Pantocratore (Christ Pantocrator), in imperial dresses; he holds in his left hand a book where the sign said «PASTOR OVIUM [BO]NUS (the good sheep shepherd)», while the right hand is elevated in sign of triumph. At his sides are depicted the prophets Geremia and Ezechiele in adoration, while on the back are the archangels Michele (Michael)  and probably Gabriele (Gabriel) (reconstruction). Behind the archangels, both on the left and right sides, groups of figures with halos, crowns and palms can be glimpsed. In the lower hemicycle, episodes of the Martirio di San Vincenzo (Saint Vincent’s martyrdom) are painted, that terminate at the south window of the apse; the remaining part of the hemicycle is occupied by two monumental figures, separated by a niche obtained from a plugged double lancet window. On the left of the niche is Sant’Adeodato who, looking at Christ in his majesty, presents him Ariberto da Intimiano, on the right, painted in vicarial robes, holding in his hand the model of the church.

The wall that leads to the presbytery with the triumphal arch shows a complex iconography, that seems to introduce the revelation of the glory of Cristo Pantocratore (Christ Pantocrator) in the apse. In the frame the decoration contains marine animals, crabs, turtles and glass  cups, possibly recalling the waters placed by God in the Genesis above the stars,  while at the top of the frieze two dolphins appear, ancient symbols of the Resurrection. The painted columns on the abutments of the arch are decorated by alternate bands of colour red and blue, while the intrados shows iridescent half-circles, enriched by different birds (swans, herons and cranes), as well as – at the centre – a pelican, which is a symbol of Christ.

On the parapet closing on the right side the presbitery, over the right access to the crypt, stands a Vergine in trono con il Bambino (Enthroned Virgin with her Child); besides is depicted a series of saints, among which San Michele (Saint Michael), San Pietro (Saint Peter), San Paolo (Saint Paul).

A deacon with a stole and a hand-peace on his left arm is traditionally recognised to be San Vincenzo, the bishop is believed to be Sant’Ambrogio, and the priest  Sant’Adeodato; these frescoes are considered, according to recent studies, as having been painted in the last quarter of the 13th century.

Ariberto da Intimiano had the crypt constructed in the 11th century to host the relics of  Adeodato, Ecclesio, Manifredo e Savino, that he had discovered. It stands on four columns overhanged by re-used capitals dating back to the 8th-9th centuries, holding up cross-vaults. Along the walls are placed the pillars that support the arches, alternated with small single lancet windows. The pillars are decorated with three saints, painted in the last quarter of the 13th century. But the most popular fresco is the one depicting Our Lady of the Milk, dating back to the second half of the 14th century. Below this image there was a spring of water – which in later times was canalised towards a well – that was considered miraculous, and able to stimulate the production of milk. It is very likely that the popular devotion for this image of the breastfeeding Madonna succeeded in preserving Galliano as a place of worship also in the period of its abandonment. Today flowers and lights are still left in front of the fresco, to signal that the devotion of the image is still alive.

The pictorial decoration of the nave, ordered as well by Ariberto, was completed by different schools of artists, and develops biblical subjects, or lives of saints. The frescoes, unfortunately, suffered significant damages in the ages of decay of the Basilica and are not always readable. On the north wall (on the left) of the central nave three cycles of paintings can be read on three levels, dedicated respectively to the stories of the Genesis, Giuditta (Judith) and Santa Margherita (Saint Margaret) di Antiochia, the patron of women in labor. The two saints are considered the female models of the Ancient and New Testament; the corresponding male models are painted on the wall in front: on the south wall, also on three levels, the stories of Sansone (Samson) and of San Cristoforo (Saint Cristopher); this last saint is also  shown as a monumental figure at the centre of the wall.

The counter-facade is enriched by part of a fresco showing a Saint bishop with two martyrs, ripped from the crypt, and dating at the third decade of the 14th century; aside, another fresco shows Santa Maria Maddalena (Saint Maria Magdalena), Santa Veronica (Saint Veronica), a saint martyr of royal ancestry and San Giovanni Evangelista ( Saint John the Evangelist) (?); also this fresco is part of a greater painting of the same age.

Contacts

Parrocchia S. Paolo – Segreteria, via C. Annoni 3 Cantù; Tel. 031.701393; E-mail segreteria.sanpaolo@sanvincenzocantu.it; Sito internet http://sanvincenzocantu.it/comunita-pastorale/chiese-sussidiarie-santuari/sussidiarie-santuari-san-paolo/

Comune di Cantù – Ufficio Cultura, Piazza Parini 4 Cantù; Tel. 031.717445; 031.717446; 031.717491; E-mail cultura@comune.cantu.co.it

To know more:

Website of the Comunità Pastorale “San Vincenzo” Cantù-Intimiano

Website of Comune di Cantù

Website of Cammino di San Pietro

Gruppo Arte e Cultura (a cura di), Galliano. 1000 anni di storia, Cantù 1995

D. Grossi, O. Molteni, G. Montorfano, Galliano e la città di Cantù, Enzo Pifferi Editore, Como 2000

G. Montorfano (a cura di), Galliano nei secoli: mostra archivistica sulle principali fonti storiche e documentarie reperite sulla storia di Galliano e della sua Basilica, Cantù, novembre 2006-luglio 2007, Tipografia Cavalleri, Cantù 2007;

M. Rossi (a cura di), Galliano. Pieve Millenaria, Lyasis edizioni, Sondrio 2008

Il Complesso Monumentale di Galliano a Cantù, Associazione Iubilantes, Como 2016

Galliano

Baptistery of S. Giovanni (St. John) of Galliano

Information

Location: the baptistery of S. Giovanni (St. John) stands close to the Basilica of S. Vincenzo (St. Vincent) in Galliano, just a few meters from where the right nave stood. It was probably linked to the same church by a porch.

Access: through the entrance on the facade, besides the pronaos.

Paving: the foreground of the baptistery, covered by a pronaos, is cobbled; the surrounding area is grassy and stone slabs show the original perimeter of the church, as was built at the order of Ariberto da Intimiano (11th century) and the link with the baptistery. The interior is paved in stone; the gallery of the matroneum is paved in stone as well, as are the stairs.

Architectural barriers:  the fenced area is accessed by four stone steps. There is another step to enter the baptistery. The east apse, in front of the entrance, is one step higher, that become two at the center. The matroneum is accessed by two flight of stairs, of thirty-two steps each, situated on both sides of the entrance.

Services: parking available; bus stops; the Cantù hospital is situated in the neighbourhood, in via Domea 4.

Leisure and Food: a small stone fountain in front of the Basilica. Bars, restaurants and shops are available nearby.

Altre informazioni: for opening times, call 031.701393 (Parish of S. Paolo – Secretary) or 031.717446 and 031.717491 (Municipality of Cantù).

A bronze model of the Basilica and of the baptistery, built by Claudio Caimi, was placed  in July 2007 near the entrance of the Basilica, The model was donated by the Cantù Lyons Club, in order to enable visually impaired guests to appreciate the architectural details of the complex.

Related monuments: Basilica of S. Vincenzo.

 

Description

(Silvia Fasana)

According to some scholars, the baptistery dates back to the 11th century, that is, in the same years when Ariberto had the Basilica of S. Vincenzo (St. Vincent) enlarged; the hypothesis is supported by analogies in construction techniques and in the style of the two buildings. Another theory, on the contrary, would place the date of construction between the 5th and 9th century, thus before the Basilica.

The baptistery lost its function in 1582, when San Carlo Borromeo, the archbishop of Milan, moved the vicarage to the church of S. Paolo.

The building, oriented towards the east, has a quadrilateral square plan, with four apses; the west apse is opened by a short entrance corridor; before the corridor, the pronaos opens on the outside and links the baptistery with the area of the basilica. An octagonal lantern crowns the building.

Inside the baptistery, at the centre of the baptismal hall, where the four apses open, supported by four pillars, is placed a monolithic tub. In front of the entrance, in the east apse, an altar is placed, holds a slab in Musso marble, with a refined engraving of the Chrismon, formed by the two letters of the Greek alphabet Chi [X] and Ro [R], that are the abbreviation of the name of Christ, and, on the left and right side, by the first and last letters Alpha [A] and Omega [Ω], overwritten by a jeweled cross. The Chrismon is inscribed in a circle, on which two doves stand, holding olive branches in their beaks. Thus the complex is rich in christological symbols. The engraving dates from the 6th-7th centuries, and probably comes from the original early christian church.

At the entrance, within the walls, on both sides, two narrow flights of stairs open, that lead to the matroneum, a large corridor opening on the baptismal area below through arch openings, two on each side. The original frescoes, except some remains, have been lost.

Contacts

Parrocchia S. Paolo – Segreteria, via C. Annoni 3 Cantù; Tel. 031.701393; E-mail segreteria.sanpaolo@sanvincenzocantu.it; Sito internet http://sanvincenzocantu.it/comunita-pastorale/chiese-sussidiarie-santuari/sussidiarie-santuari-san-paolo/

Comune di Cantù – Ufficio Cultura, Piazza Parini 4 Cantù; Tel. 031.717445; 031.717446; 031.717491; E-mail cultura@comune.cantu.co.it

To knw more:

Website of the Comunità Pastorale “San Vincenzo” Cantù-Intimiano

Website of Comune di Cantù

Website of Cammino di San Pietro

Il Complesso Monumentale di Galliano a Cantù, Associazione Iubilantes, Como 2016

M. Rossi (a cura di), Galliano. Pieve Millenaria, Lyasis edizioni, Sondrio 2008

Santuario,facciata

Sanctuary of the Beata Vergine dei Miracoli (Blessed Virgin of Miracles)

Information
Location: the Sanctuary of the Beata Vergine dei Miracoli (Blessed Virgin of Miracles) is in Piazzale XXV Aprile, at the end of the Viale alla Madonna, close to the Cemetery.

Access: through the front door, usually open.

Paving: the church prospects on a half-moon shaped, cobbled churchyard, delimited externally by a narrow flowerbed with low bushes, and by another cobbled stripe where iron poles (40 meters high) and small stone pillars (60 meters high) are fixed, holding an iron chain. Both stripes end in correspondence with the edges of the facade, at about three quarters of the circumference, starting from the right. In front of the central door a small half-moon is found, in black and white, with the monogram M V (Maria Vergine, Virgin Mary). The revolving door is paved in stone, as well as the interior of the Sanctuary.

Architectural barriers: the churchyard is slightly descending, converging towards the main entrance. To access the churchyard, there are two lateral passages on the right (slightly higher than street level) and on the left (larger, but take care of the small poles) of the facade, not delimited by the chain and the flowerbed.

In correspondence of the front door there is a wide revolving door with two openings.

Services: parking available; cemetery; chemist’s in via Brighi.

Leisure and Food: bars and coffee shops; a green area with benches in front of the Monument for the fallen gunners, on the corner between Viale alla Madonna and via Cesare Cantù.

Other information: the church is usually open. For opening times, call 031.701393 (Parish of S. Paolo – Secretary) or 031.717446 and 031.717491 (Municipality of Cantù).

Description

(Silvia Fasana)

In the place where today the Sanctuary stands, outside the ancient gate of Campo Rotondo, in the 16th century there stood an ancient wall, where a popular image of a breastfeeding Madonna had been painted, called “Santa Maria Bella”.

According to local lore, in May 1543, the Virgin Mary appeared to the young girl Angiolina, who went to pray before the sacred image to ask for the end of a terrible famine that was ravaging the area, inviting the Madonna with her family to reap an abundant harvest.

Following up this miracle, the fame of the revered image spread rapidly in the areas of Como and Milan, so much as – between 1554 and 1555 – a church was built on the site, as confirmed by two headstones positioned inside it, on the left wall.

The facade, built in an eclectic style, where baroque elements prevail, was built (1900-1901) in Portland cement based on the design of Italo Zanolini; in the upper side,  a great rayed niche hosts an imposing statue of Maria Assunta (Our Lady of the Assumption).

The interior has three naves; the central nave ends in the presbytery, while those on the sides end with two chapels, the left one dedicated to Sant’Antonio (Saint Antony), and the right one to Santa Teresa (Saint Theresa) d’Avila.

The anterior part of the church, up to the line of the altars, is a 19th century reconstruction, based on a project of the architect Giacomo Moraglia, because of a collapse that happened in October 1837. With a square plan, it appears almost empty, a sort of vestibule that prepares the visitor to the magnificence of the presbytery and chorus, decorated with frescoes that follow precise iconographic cycles. It is a true theatrical scene, that surrounds the miraculous image of the Mother of God, in a triumph of colours.

The decoration of the walls and of the dome of the presbytery is one of the latest works of Giovanni Mauro della Rovere, in art the Fiammenghino (1637-38). The structure of the composition and the iconography are complex: besides the two Epiphanies narrated in the Gospels, where Mary presents her Son to the pagans (Adorazione dei Magi) and to the Hebrews (Le Nozze di Cana), that are painted on the walls on the two sides, around the superior arches Prophets and Sybils are represented side by side, to indicate continuity between the classical age and the biblical tradition, waiting for the birth of Christ from the Virgin Mary. The apex of the cycle is the image of the Assumed Mary, of the 19th century, positioned at the centre of a crown of playing angels at the centre of the dome over the presbytery. The chorus, instead, is decorated with stucco and with a cycle of paintings illustrating Storie dell’infanzia di Gesù (Hystory of the early life of Jesus), painted by Giovanni Stefano Doneda (il Montalto) with the collaboration of his brother Joseph (7th-8th decades of the 17th century).

Under the arch between the presbytery and the chorus stands the altar, built in white and gray marbles in neoclassical style, finished in 1852 on the design of the painter Pompeo Calvi. The Madonna is seated on a wooden throne of late Gothic style, with a tri-cuspidal dossal;  on her sides two angels are playing instruments. It is a devotional painting, of popular style, dated not later than the half of the 15th century, even if it has been heavily repainted.

In the left nave of the Sanctuary is a beautiful Incoronazione della Vergine (Crowning of the Virgin) by Camillo Procaccini (approx. 1610), originally positioned in the parish of S. Paolo, while the right chapel shows the Apparizione di Cristo a Santa Teresa (Christ appears to Saint Theresa), painted by the French painter Charles Grandon (1714) and donated to the Sanctuary in 1777 by the reverend Torriani, copy of the painting of Giovan Francesco Barbieri (il Guercino), an artist from Emilia.

Contacts

Parrocchia S. Paolo – Segreteria, via C. Annoni 3 Cantù; Tel. 031.701393; E-mail segreteria.sanpaolo@sanvincenzocantu.it; Sito internet http://sanvincenzocantu.it/comunita-pastorale/chiese-sussidiarie-santuari/santuario-b-vergine-maria/

Comune di Cantù – Ufficio Cultura, Piazza Parini 4 Cantù; Tel. 031.717445; 031.717446; 031.717491; E-mail cultura@comune.cantu.co.it

To know more:

Website of the Comunità Pastorale “San Vincenzo” Cantù-Intimiano

Website of Comune di Cantù

Website of Cammino di San Pietro

Il Santuario della Beata Vergine dei Miracoli a Cantù, Associazione Iubilantes, Como 2018

G. Motta, A. Orombelli, Il Santuario della Madonna dei Miracoli di Cantù, La Grafica, Cantù 1965.

Stage 2 – From the Sanctuary of the Beata Vergine dei Miracoli (Blessed Virgin of Miracles) to the Church of S. Antonio (St. Antony) with hospitale

Oratory of the Beata Vergine (Blessed Virgin) or Madonnina of S. Paolo (St. Paul)Chiurch of S. Teodoro (St. Theodorus) Church of S. Antonio (St. Anthony) with hospitale*

MADONNINA SAN PAOLO

Oratory of the Beata Vergine (Blessed Virgin) or Madonnina of S. Paolo (St. Paul)

Information

Location: The Oratory is placed outside the churchyard of the church of S. Paolo (St. Paul), close to the entrance of Scotti house, formerly Archinto palace, leaning to the old walls close to porta Ferraia

Access: from the front door

Paving: the space in front of the Oratory is cobbled; the band around the facade is paved in small slabs of stone, as is the first step of the entrance, while the other two steps and the last one are in stone. The vestibule is paved in stone, the interior in fired bricks.

Architectural barriers: three steps plus another one lead to the interior of the Oratory, passing a small vestibule delimited by an iron grid with glass. The apse is one step higher. At the centre of the oratory is the baptismal font, on a lower plan (take care).

Services: urban an extra-urban bus stops in Piazza Parini; cash dispenser in Piazza Garibaldi and in via Corbetta; chemist’s in via Ariberto da Intimiano and via Matteotti

Leisure and Food: bars and shops in the neighbourhood; public gardens in via Dante (Parco Argenti) and via Roma (Parco Martiri delle Foibe).

Other information: open on request. For opening times, call 031.701393 (Parish of S. Paolo – Secretary).

Description

The Oratory is a small building with a square plan, with an unusual apse with seven sides of irregular length, probably adapted to the trace of the city walls. The stratigraphy shows that the oratory was erected between the end of the 15th and the beginning of the 16th century, enclosing a more ancient image of the Breastfeeding Madonna painted on a stretch of the walls, to protect the city. The oratory, in fact, is not mentioned among the churches listed by Goffredo da Bussero in his Liber Notitiae Sanctorum Mediolani, written in 1289.

In the 16th century the facade was open and delimited by an iron grid, as witnessed by the apostolic visitor father Leonetto Clivone in 1566; in later times, the facade was  closed, as prescribed by San Carlo Borromeo after his visit of July 9, 1570. At the same time, cardinal Borromeo also ordered to renovate the baptistery, placed at the time in the church of S. Paolo; meanwhile baptisms should have been held «nella chiesa più propinqua» [in the church most close]. Thus the baptistery was temporarily moved inside the oratory; in 1717 cardinal Giuseppe Archinto ordered that the oratory should be used instead as the seat of the Confraternities of the Very Holy Sacrament and of the Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmelo.

Here started a period of decay: the care of don Carlo Annoni, Calvi, and Garovaglio, avoided the oratory to be destroyed during the urban renovation of the city that took place at the end of the 19th century, even when it was used for other purposes, such a deposit or laboratory.  Only in 1956, thanks to the parish mons. Giuseppe Bratti, the first restoration works were started, in order to use the oratory again as baptistery, during a short period between the sixties and seventies of the last century. Between 1998 and 2004 a new series of renovation works were performed, aimed at maintaining and consolidating the structure, as well as at restoring the frescoes.

In contrast with the unassuming simplicity of the exterior, the interior is endowed with a rich fresco decoration, covering the apse, the side walls and the vault.

The apse has seven sides: on the wall, a loggia has been painted, opening on a  landscape behind: a picture of Our Lady of the Milk is placed at the centre, painted in a simple style, dated at the 14th century, due to her Gothic tracts.  This is the only breast-feeding Madonna in Cantù who has a crown on her head; the Child has a small bird on his left hand. According to Natale Perego: «it is an interesting fact that this church [for a certain period] was used as a baptistery: one more time, as in Galliano […], we find painted together in the territory of Cantù water and milk, that is the two primordial elements of spiritual and material life».

At both sides of the Madonna are two Angels, behind whom images of the ancient Cantù have been recognised; the Buon Ladrone (Good Thief) is painted on the left end of the loggia and San Nicola da Tolentino (Saint Nicholas of Tolentino) on the right. Over each arch of the loggia you can find alternated a shell and a Cherub’s head; at the centre, over the breast-feeding Madonna, Dio Padre (God Father) is represented in the gesture of benediction.

On the walls there are two cycles of paintings: the Life of the Blessed Virgin and The Infancy of Jesus: on the left wall, starting from the left, are the Massacre of the Innocents, the Shepherds’ Adoration, Nativity and Presentation to the Temple;  on the right wall, starting from the left, are The Wedding of the Virgin, Circumcision and the Adoration of the Magi. These scenes are separated by false pillars surmounted by a  trabeation; over the trabeation are half moons with Sybils and Prophets in medallions. An inscription on the left side of the arch delimiting the apse reports the probable authors and the date when the paintings were executed: Giovanni Ambrogio da Vigevano and Cristoforo Motti (1514), mentioned only for this cycle of frescoes, who,  according to Mauro Natale, were inspired by Bergognone and Bernardo Zenale, and often by the engravings by Raffaello and Durer. At the center of the blue, star-studded vault, shines a round painting spreading sunrays and including a Madonna with Child over a half moon.

A baptismal font in poly-chrome marbles has been placed at the center of the Oratory.

 

Contacts

Parrocchia S. Paolo – Segreteria, via C. Annoni 3 Cantù; Tel. 031.701393; E-mail segreteria.sanpaolo@sanvincenzocantu.it; Sito internet http://sanvincenzocantu.it/comunita-pastorale/parrocchie/san-paolo/

Comune di Cantù – Ufficio Cultura, Piazza Parini 4 Cantù; Tel. 031.717445; 031.717446; 031.717491; E-mail cultura@comune.cantu.co.it

To know more:

Website of the Comunità Pastorale “San Vincenzo” Cantù-Intimiano

Website of Cammino di San Pietro

S. Della Torre (a cura), Il restauro della Madonnina di S. Paolo, Associazione Amici dei Musei della Città di Cantù e del suo Territorio, Cantù 2005.

G. A. Vergani, La porta che non porta. Porta Ferraia di San Paolo e il sistema urbano di Cantù nel Medioevo, Gruppo Arte e Cultura, Cantù 1998.

S. Teodoro

Church of S. Teodoro (St. Theodorus)

Information

Location: the church of S. Teodoro (St. Theodorus) prospects on the square of the same name, opening on a side of via Eugenio Corbetta.

Access: the main access is through the front door on the square; it is also possible, however, to enter from a secondary door, on the left side of the church, situated on a passage between the square and via Volta. A third entrance is on the back of the building, between the right apse and the chapel of the Crucifix; it is accessed from via Volta crossing a fenced space on the back of the church.

Paving: the square is paved in slabs of stone; at its centre is a green flowerbed, that holds some archaeological relics. The staircase is paved in stone, as well as the small platform at the top.

The passage that, starting from via Volta, flanks the left side of the church is in cubes of  porphyry. The fenced space on the back is paved in stone.

The church is paved in bricks, with the exception of the apses, in small slabs, and of the chapel of the Crucifix, in polished marble.

Architectural barriers: the entrance is reached by a staircase with eight steps and a hand railing on both sides. The staircase leads to a platform delimited on the front by a low iron railing resting on small stone pillars. Before the main entrance there is a low step in stone. The main entrance has a revolving door.

The side entrance on the left also has a revolving door. At the beginning and at the end of the passage on the left side of the church are two cement kerbstones.

To access the fenced space at the back of the building you have to descend two steps; the entrance on the back also has a revolving door.

Inside the church, to reach the apse of the central nave, four steps have to be ascended; to reach the apses of the side naves two steps (a slide is also available in the right apse); to reach the chapel of the Crucifix, one stone step.

Services: parking available nearby (you can park in the square only at the time of religious services; cash dispenser in Via Corbetta; bus stop in via Alessandro Volta.

Leisure and Food: bars and restaurants in the neighbourhood; shops; city theater San Teodoro in via Corbetta 7; public garden in via Dante (Parco Argenti).

Other information: the church is usually open. For opening times call 031.714570 (Parish of S. Teodoro – Secretary).

Description

The Church of S. Teodoro (St. Theodorus) was mentioned for the first time in a document of the year  1207; according to recent studies, the church should have been built in the 12th century. In some documents the church has the double dedication to the Saints Bartholomew and Theodorus.

During the Counter-Reform, at the half of the 17th century, the church was subject to renovation works: in particular the lateral apses where demolished and replaced by two chapels with a rectangular plan, with the wall at the bottom almost in line with the main apse. The desire to align the architecture of the church to the baroque style was completed by the intervention of Gerolamo Quadrio (who at the time was leading the Fabricery of the Cathedral of Milan, and was already working in Cantù in the project of the church of S. Maria). He redefined the vaults and the pillars, and probably reconstructed the bell tower (which was renovated again in 1831 by adding the octaedhron and the dome). The chapel of the Crucifix was built on the right of the church in the second half of the 19h century; at the beginning of the following century, under the direction of the architect Campanini, a series of interventions were carried over in order to restore the church in its original shape, not least the reconstruction of the two side apses. In the years 2001-2003, under the direction of the architect Luigi Vaghi, who also designed the project, further important works of restoration and consolidation were completed.

The simple facade alternates big square blocks at the bottom with pilasters in cobbles and fired bricks. It is dominated by a beautiful portal of the 18th century, in gray and yellow sandstone; above, at the centre, is an image of the bishop Teodoro. The interior shows a structure with three naves, delimited by heavy square pillars. Each nave ends with an apse, but only the central one is considered original. Few traces remain of the decoration mentioned by cardinal Federico Borromeo in 1604; one is the fresco of San Giovanni Battista (St. John the Baptist) on the first pillar on the left, another is the refined Our Lady of the Milk, dated by some art historians at the beginning of the 16th century, that was ripped and inserted in a baroque frame along the left nave. At the beginning of the right nave, a niche, decorated by a fresco of the Battesimo di Gesù (Jesus’ Baptism) contains a baptismal font of the 18t century.

The presbytery opens at the end of the central nave, delimited by a beautiful marble balustrade, with an elegant wrought iron gate; the main altar, of the 18th century, is in polichrome marbles; on the wall of the apse stands a fresco with Il Crocifisso tra San Bartolomeo e San Teodoro (the Crucifix between Saint Bartholomew and Saint Theodorus), dating back to the end of the 16th century.

The altar at the end of the left apse is currently dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, while that at the end of the right nave is overlooked by a lovely wooden statue of Sant’Agata (Saint Agatha).

The chapel of the Crucifix holds a precious wooden Crucifix,  with true hair and spines, originally in the demolished church of the Saints Giacomo and Filippo; under the plan of the altar is a representation of the Souls of the Purgatory.

Contacts

Parrocchia S. Teodoro – Segreteria, Piazza S. Teodoro 3 Cantù; Tel. 031.714570; E-mail segreteria.santeodoro@sanvincenzocantu.it; Sito internet http://sanvincenzocantu.it/comunita-pastorale/parrocchie/san-teodoro/

Comune di Cantù – Ufficio Cultura, Piazza Parini 4 Cantù; Tel. 031.717445; 031.717446; 031.717491; E-mail cultura@comune.cantu.co.it

To know more:

Website of the Comunità Pastorale “San Vincenzo” Cantù-Intimiano

Website of Comune di Cantù

Website Romanicomo

Website of Cammino di San Pietro

L. Vaghi, La Basilica parrocchiale di San Teodoro in Cantù, Parrocchia S. Teodoro, Cantù 2011.

P. Frigerio, La parrocchia di san Teodoro in Cantù e le sue chiese, Parrocchia S. Teodoro, Cantù 1987.

S. Antonio

Church of S. Antonio (St. Anthony) with hospitale*

Information

Location: the Church of S. Antonio (St. Anthony) is in via Daverio 21

Access: the main access is through the front door opening on the churchyard; the side entrance is open only at the time of the celebrations of the Saint’s Feast, in January.

Paving: the church prospects on a churchyard of rectangular shape, bordered on the long side by via Daverio, cobbled and delimited by a band paved in stone. The two sides not bordered by buildings are delimited by small iron poles, about 8 meters high, holding an iron chain. In front of the main entrance is a half-rayed circle, cobbled as well in polychrome stones, with a monogram of the Greek letter Tau (T), which is a characteristic of the iconography of Saint Anthony and of the related hospital Order. The steps are in stone; inside, the paving is in polished tiles.

Architectural barriers: there are three passages not delimited by the chain, in correspondence with the corners of the churchyard. The access to the church is from  the main door, by descending three steps. The presbytery is one step higher than the floor of the church.

Services: parking available; bus stop in via Achille Grandi

Leisure and Food: bars, restaurant in the neighbourhood; shops and supermarkets

Other information: the church is open only for religious services. For opening times call 031.714570 (Parish of S. Teodoro – Secretary).

Description

Mentioned in the Liber Notitiae Sanctorum Mediolani by Goffredo da Bussero, the church of S. Antonio (St. Antony) stood outside the city walls, along the ancient via Canturina, coming from Como, close to the Roggia Maietto, a small water course. The early structure of the sacred building dates back to the second half of the 12th century; the apse was most likely added in the 14th century: on the outside it presents a crown of little Gothic arches in bricks; other interventions were made on the facade in the same period, and subsequently in the baroque era.

The facade is shaped as an asymmetrical hut, since it leans to a building on the right side; it is open by a Gothic portal in bricks, delimited by a round arch and by a pointed arch superimposed. Over the portal opens a rose window, also in Gothic style, bordered by bricks, and, higher, a cross shaped window. The bell tower is situated in the right back of the church, and its construction is usually dated back to the 18th century.

The interior has a single nave, and is at a lower level than the street. The internal walls were once covered with frescoes, but now just a few survive, dating back to different periods, between the end of the 13th and beginning of the 15th century; their style recalls various experiences, from the byzantine world to the Lombard school of the 14th century.

In the counter facade, on the right, there is a modest fresco of Our Lady of the Milk, painted at an unknown date. The Madonna seats on a wooden seat, while the Child holds an apple, symbol of the original sin, defeated by His death.

On the right wall there are traces of frescoes of Our Lady in throne with Child and (possibly) Santa Caterina d’Alessandria (Catherine of Alexandria), crowned but without her wheel, with a figure at her side offering gifts; above, in a niche, stands a great statue of Sant’Antonio (Saint Antony), in sand stone, that was originally placed on the facade, of the 14h century.

Further on, on the wall, at the sides of a second niche with a polychrome statue of San Rocco (Saint Rocco), are two saints on the right, and, on the left, another figure, with plagues, that some scholars identify with San Lazzaro (Saint Lazarus), the patron of infected people and beggars.

At the half of the left wall opens a lateral entrance, surmounted by a half moon decorated with an Annunciation. On the left of the entrance are the remains of a fresco representing the plate of a scale over which one soul is deposed, waiting to be weighed; it has been interpreted as a fragment of the painting of San Michele Arcangelo (St. Michael Archangel). On the right is a figure identified as San Giovanni Evangelista (Saint John the Evangelist).

The presbytery is introduced by an acute arch, bearing at the centre a wooden Crucifix; the poligonal apse is covered by a Gothic vault, with terracotta ribs. Over the stone altar is a polychrome, late Gothic, statue of Sant’Antonio (St. Anthony), made in fig wood.

The church had an Hospitale (hospital) annexed, which assisted pilgrims and sick people; its remains, structured as a courtyard, are leaning towards the south side. The hospital was initially cared for by Augustine nuns, then passed in the 15th century to the French canons of St. Anthony of Vienne, in the 17th century became a dependence of the monastery of S. Maria (St. Mary), where the bones of the nuns were moved, as proved by a headstone of 1689 conserved in the church. After the monastery was closed, the structure underwent various changes of functions; now it has been divided in private homes.

At the beginning of this century, the dedication to St. Anthony has been extended to the current hospital of Cantù.

Contacts

Parrocchia S. Teodoro – Segreteria, Piazza S. Teodoro 3 Cantù; Tel. 031.714570; E-mail segreteria.santeodoro@sanvincenzocantu.it; Sito internet http://sanvincenzocantu.it/comunita-pastorale/parrocchie/san-teodoro/

Comune di Cantù – Ufficio Cultura, Piazza Parini 4 Cantù; Tel. 031.717445; 031.717446; 031.717491; E-mail cultura@comune.cantu.co.it

To know more:

Website of the Comunità Pastorale “San Vincenzo” Cantù-Intimiano

Website Romanicomo

Website of Cammino di San Pietro

Sant’Antonio di Cantù. Una chiesa il suo ospedale, Gruppo Arte e Cultura, Cantù 2003.