Church of Santa Maria Incoronata

Corso Giuseppe Garibaldi, 116. (Open Map)


The Church of Santa Maria Incoronata has a special feature that immediately strikes the visitor: it consists of two buildings, originally separate, merged together in 1484. The first, which corresponds to the present right aisle, was built upon the wishes of Francesco Sforza initiated in 1451, whilst the second, which differs only slightly, was built a few years later.
The interior was once decorated with frescoes and cycles of paintings but now is mainly painted white.
Inside the church, which has vaulted ceilings supported by pillars, there are three polygon shape chapels located on the right side.
Completed around 1484 (according to some historians the date could be 1487), the name of the architect is unknown although some experts refer to Pietro Antonio Solari who was possibly the author of the south aisle.
The oldest church, on the left looking from the churchyard, was ruled by the Ermitani fathers of San Marco and named Santa Maria di Garegnano.
At the beginning of the XV century, next to the sacred location, a monastery was built for the Augustinian friars, who restored the old church in late Gothic style. Since the work was completed just at the time of the coronation of Francesco Sforza as Duke of Milan (1451) it was named Santa Maria Incoronata and dedicated to the new lord. A few years later, Lady Bianca Maria of Cremona, wanted an almost identical church built beside her husband, joined together to form a single church.The church contains many works of great interest as “Cristo sotto il Torchio” (Christ under a cross shaped press) by Bergognone and the beautiful and lively series of Baroque frescoes of the life of S. Nicholas of Tolentino, probably by Ciro Ferri.
Of great interest is the library of the convent adjoining the church, located on the first floor; it has three aisles, supported by slender columns, some of which are part of the original decoration in imitation marble.
The location is also of special interest for the reason that it is one of the few painted libraries in Milan to date. The despoiled paintings were discovered under layers of lime and plaster that concealed their presence. The restoration of these paintings was completed in 2000.
On the vaults of the central nave a radiant sun is clearly visible, a symbol of Sant’Agostino, whilst the fathers of the church are depicted on the lunettes. This part of the monastery was famous because it was an important cultural circle, so much so that intellectual and famous people of the city donated entire collections of books and precious codexes which are now preserved in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana. In the refectory a Crucifixion was also painted on a wall, created in the first decade of the sixteenth century, which was then dismembered and placed outside the church.