Church of San Barnaba

Via della Commenda, 3. (Open Map)


The renovation of the ancient church named Preposturale of San Barnaba in Brova; the first religious building constructed by the Barnabite order, was initiated in 1545 upon the instructions of Father Morigia and was concluded on November 1st, 1546 with the subsequent consecration of the renovated church.
The building immediately proved to be too small and Galeazzo Alessi was commissioned to design its renovation and expansion.
In Alessi’s plan of the church was laid out longitudinally into three well-defined spaces: a large nave, plus, presbytery and choir.
The large nave has Corinthian pillars embedded in the wall which act as entrances to the three side chapels. The roof is barrel vaulted.
The presbytery has a single pavilion vault on a rectangular base that is set transversely to the axis of the church.
The choir, which can accommodate 60 stalls, is a square space covered by a cross vault joined to the semi cupola which marks the end of the apse.
Work began on the side of the choir and the presbytery and the church was finally finished in 1567, the interior embellishments were then finished in 1568, when S.Carlo Borromeo came to celebrate the first Mass on the altar that he had personally donated.
The restoration of the entire facade was completed at the end of 2010. The work has renewed the beauty of the church and has also brought it back to the attention of the Milanese public together with the gateway to the temple designed and built in 1965 by the Milanese sculptor Giovanni Maria Stoppani.
Therein lies the body of the founder of the Barnabites, S. Antonio Maria Zaccaria.
Inside the church is an altar dedicated to the Milanese S. Alessandro Sauli, a nobleman from the Genoese family of Spinola, who was consecrated at a young age to a life of obedience and discipline, even though he was a page in the court of Charles V. Once ordained a priest, he became a teacher of the Barnabite order.The church of S. Barnabas conserves some paintings that document the style of Milanese painting in the second half of the 1500s, the era of Carlo Borromeo: the two large canvases that Gian Giacomo Trivulzio commissioned from Simon Peterzano in 1573 for the presbytery of the church, two episodes of the lives of S. Paul and S.Barnabas, taken from the Acts of the Apostles and rarely depicted.
Giovan Paolo Lomazzo chose a solution that was rather archaic, almost neo-fifteenth century, for his work of S. Francis receiving stigmata together with S. Bartolomeo and S.Bernardino da Siena.
On either side of the main altar there are two large canvases with Stories of S. Paolo and S.Barnabas, first work by Simone Peterzano in Milan (1572-1573).