Church of St. Peter in Gessate

Via Chiossetto, 20. (Open Map)


The Church of San Pietro in Gessate is an example of Lombardian art that followed an upsurge of faith and devotion. The structure was erected when the monastic order of Benedictines arrived around the mid XV century, (between 1447 and 1475), on the foundations of the ancient church of San Pietro e Paolo. Its construction was entrusted to the architect Guiniforte Solari, as were the churches of Santa Maria della Pace and Santa Maria delle Grazie.After the bombings in 1943 that caused the destruction of part of the original building, the restorations brought to light the frescoes and the decorations that, nowadays, distinguish the building. In fact, it should not be forgotten that for many illustrious men San Pietro in Gessate was the place chosen as their burial ground. Inside the church members of the Sforzesca court built lateral chapels, to the left and the right, with richly decorative frescoes on the vaults depicting stories of the Blessed Virgin and saints.The current structure stands as a central body flanked by two lateral naves and is characterised by a Gothic-Lombardic style facade, which dates back to ‘400 in the last century and was restored in 1912, plus, an eighteenth century door and a baroque bell tower.Some sources decree that the original church, built in 1200 by the Order of Umiliati, was named after the Saints Peter or Paul in “Glaxiate” or Glassiate, a name that derives from an ancient Milanese family who were founders of the convent.For a certain period the church, that is situated directly in front of the Palazzo di Giustizia, (Law Courts) in Corso di Porta Vittoria, was the premises of the “Martinitt” orphanage.Not to be missed are the lateral chapels with their vaulted ceilings completely covered in frescoes, in particular the main chapel with baroque style decorations and the Grifi chapel, situated in the left transept, decorated on the ceiling and lunette with frescoes that depict the spectacular Storie di Sant'Ambrogio by Bernardino Buttinone and Bernardo Zenale. They were appointed after the commissioner had unsuccessfully contacted Vincenzo Foppa from Brescia to carry out the work.In the same chapel one can admire the stunning realism of the tombstone statue with the sculptured representation of the body of Ambrogio Grifi, patron of the frescoes. The tomb is the work of Benedetto Briosco, disciple of Amadeo. One can also see a fresco by Bergognone, unfortunately in poor condition.In the fourth chapel one can also admire the frescoes of Antonio Campi.