Church of Santa Maria della Pace

Via San Barnaba, 42. (Open Map)


The history of Chiesa di Santa Maria della Pace dates back to the XV century when the knight Amedeo Menez de Silva, a Portuguese nobleman who became a Franciscan monk, decided to gather together a group of Franciscan monks with the intention of spreading peace in a city worn down by civil disorders.So in 1476, thanks to a proviso by Bianca Maria Sforza and her son Galezzo Maria, they were able to start the building works for the church and the convent annex.The structure, designed by the architect Guiniforte Solari and consecrated in 1497, was named after the Virgin Mary as a plea for peace.Nevertheless, with the passing of the years the building changed hands many times and was used for many different purposes. In fact in 1805, with the arrival of Napoleon, it was deconsecrated and changed into an arms deposit and an equestrian school. In 1900 the church was purchased by the noble family Bagatti-Valsecchi who turned it into premises for a music society and was put to use as a concert room. In 1905 it passed into the hands of the nuns of Santa Maria Riparatrice (Reparatrix Sisters Servants of Mary) and after being re-consecrated it was given back to the sect. In 1967 the building was bought by the Ordine Equestre del Santo Sepolcro (Equestrian Order of Saint Sepolcro) who still use it today for various functions.Nowadays the fifteenth century building is a monument of Lombardian art and the structure, with a single nave and five spans covered with cross vaults, is flanked by a large sixteenth century bell tower.The interior is a treasure trove of frescoes, stuccoes and paintings which decorate the ceilings of the chapels. They are masterpieces carried out by the artists: Gaudenzio Ferrari, Bernardo Luini, Lorenzo Crespi and Giulio Cesare Procaccini.Inside the church, in the chapel on the left side of the main altar, is a representation of the Virgin Mary whose robes are embellished with the word “pax” (peace). This is a recurring theme in the interior and exterior of the church itself, and can also be found in one of the rose windows of the central door. This led to the origin of the church as a symbol of peace for the city.Also bearing testimony to its ancient history is the large imposing organ inside the building, which is still in good working order and dates from the period in which the church was the premises of a musical society.