Basilica Santa Maria della Passione

Via Conservatorio, 12-14. (Open Map)


Not far from the courthouse is one of the most prestigious of Milan’s Renaissance buildings: the Basilica of Santa Maria della Passione. This imposing structure is located in the center of the city and is almost as large as the Cathedral.
The Basilica was built to the orders of the rich prelate, Daniele Birago (1486), who donated it to the regular Canonical Laterans of Saint Augustine. The original Greek cross plan of the church was designed by Giovanni Battagio. In 1530, Cristoforo Lombardo completed the dome which is 49.7 meters high and 23 meters wide.
In 1573, the design was extended to form a Latin cross with three front spans.
The Baroque façade of the church, built from 1692 till 1729, was designed by the sculptor Giuseppe Rusnati. The façade once housed a series of sculptures illustrating the Passion of the Christ but some of them were removed in 1864.
The inside of the church is a true art gallery which contains some fine Renaissance paintings such as: “The Deposition”, attributed to Luini, “The Last Supper”, by Gaudenzio Ferrari and “The Fast of San Carlo”, by Daniele Crespi. In the capitular room we can admire frescoes by Ambrogio da Fossano, also known as "il Bergognone".
The Basilica was home to intense musical activity during the 16th and 17th centuries. Two organs were built, one opposite the other, under the massive dome. The one on the right was constructed by the famous Antegnati, while that on the left is by organ builder Valvassori (who also built the organ in the Duomo). Classical organ concerts for two performers are frequently held here. In the chapel on the right is the important work, “Christ on the Column”, by Procaccini, together with “The Madonna of the Caravaggio”, a fresco attributed to Bramantino. On the pillars of the presbytery, we find paintings by Daniele Crespi illustrating episodes from The Passion of The Christ. The most important of these is “Christ nailed to the Cross”.
The ancient monastery, adjacent to the church, is now the location of the famous “Giuseppe Verdi” Conservatorio. The largest hall can accommodate 1,800 people and it is particularly suitable for symphonic and choral music. The Conservatorio library is also of great interest, with more than 80,000 volumes, 400,000 musical scores and other manuscripts by Mozart, Paisiello, Rossini, Verdi, Bellini and many others.