Church of San Bernardino in the Nuns

Via Lanzone, 7-13. (Open Map)


This beautiful church lies in via Lanzone, a short distance form the Università Cattolica and the Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio. Squeezed in between buildings and palazzi it is adjacent to a verdant garden.The church was built around 1447. After 1450 it was dedicated to the Franciscan Bernardino of Siena and it still conserves some of his relics.
The building is a tall and narrow parallelepiped in terracotta, with a bell tower and spire attributed to Pietro Antonio Solari. The church has a single body and is set in a rectangular layout with a low square choir. Both the spaces have slender suspended cross vaulted ceilings with pointed arch sections. The facade is decorated by three tall single lancet windows and a circular window with raised frames in terracotta. Various majolica ‘bowls’ inserted in the walls adorn the front.
Inside it is still possible to admire a considerable part of the ancient frescoed embellishments carried out between the end of the fifteenth century and the beginning of the sixteenth century.An ancient monastery existed on the original site before church had been constructed: in 1290 the noblewoman Floriana Crivelli set up a religious community called the Suore Umiliate (Humble Nuns) who followed the Saint Agostino rule.
Later the nuns embraced the Franciscan rule of the Suore di Santa Chiara (Clarisse or Poor Clare nuns) from which they were successively dismissed. Unfortunately, no traces remain of the thirteenth century monastery buildings.