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The Christian Travelers Guide to Italy


Sample texts from The Christian Travelers Guide to Italy
By David Bershad and Carolina Mangone


See the Botticelli slide show, but remember, slde shows are slow loading


Two thousand two hundred stone saints and ninety-five gargoyles inhabit the heart of Milan; they are the earthly witnesses to a city that sprawls around its heavenly Duomo, Milan Cathedral, was begun in 1386 by Gian Galeazzo Visconti, the edifice was an offering to the Virgin, a pious bribe for the birth of a son and is an outstanding example of Italina Gothic architecture. The Duke soon received an heir and the church was subsequently dedicated to 'Maria Nascente', the nascent Mother. The emergent structure was borne on the Duke's fortune, state taxes and the sale of indulgences. Its construction spans seven centuries. While a functional cathedral was in use by 1399, rebuilding continues today. Numerous architects contributed to the massive structure (158m long x 93m wide), among them, Simone da Orsegnio, Giovannino de'Grassi, Bonino da Campione, Marco da Carona, Giovanni Antonio Amadeo, Pellegrino Tibaldi, Francesco Maria Richini and Francesco Croce, to name a few. Enter through the stunning bronze cathedral doors (19th - 20th c) depicting the Edict of Constantine, the Life of St. Ambrose, Milan versus Barbarossa and the History of the Cathedral.

Inside the spacious five-asiled church, intricate statuary and luminous stained glass windows abound. Among the multicoloured glass panes are the Life of St. John the Evangelist (1473-77), scenes from the New Testament, the Life of St. Eligius (1480-89), the Life of St. James the Elder (1554-64), the Life of St. Catharine of Alexandria (1543) and representations of the Prophets (15th c). The variety of statuary portrays St. Bartholomew (carrying hid flayed skin) by Marco d'Agrate, the Tomb of Giacomo Medici, "Il Medeghino" (d1555) by Leone Leoni,the statue of Martin V by Jacopo da Tradate, the bronze Trivulzio candelabrum (13th -14th c) and representations of the Doctors of the Church, Prophets and SIBYLS atop the pinnacles. The cathedral Treasury is below the main altar, adjacent to the crypt of St. Carlo Borromeo. The treasury contains precious ivory, gold and silver from as early as the 4th c. >> Archeological excavations in the 1960's revealed the Baptistery of St. Ambrose. Properly called the Baptistery of San Giovanni alle Fonti (378AD), it is the alleged spot where St. Augustine baptized St. Ambrose. Ambrose was named bishop of Milan before he was even baptized!


Links to Websites for places mentioned in
the Christian Travelers
Guide to Italy



Giovanni Bellini's
Pieta (1500) is only one
of his masterpieces.
See the Bellini slide show.



Milan's beloved St.Ambrose's church, Sant' Ambrogio, is surrounded by a variety of religious edifices and structures dedicated to the bishop. They include an imitation medieval city gate (1939) decorated with its original statues of patron saints (1360) called the Pusterla di Sant' Ambrogio and the Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore with cloisters (1497-1513) from a structure originally intended to be a convent by Bramante. It was reconstructed using original materials after suffering W.W.II damage. Founded in 379 AD, the church of Sant' Ambrogio, both basilica and martyrium, was constructed atop the burial site of two martyrs, Gervase and Protase. St. Ambrose's remains were added to the church's venerable relics.

The church was rebuilt in 1080 and restored between 1859 and 1890. Enter the church complex through the atrium (1088-99); inside the arcaded enclosure, the church façade and belltowers are revealed. Greater building advances and more wealth, not church hierarchy, distinguish the short Torre dei Monaci or Monk's Belltower (9th c) from the more delicate, taller Torre dei Canonici or Canon's Belltower (1144). St. Ambrose is represented in relief on the bronze portals (10th c) that lead into the church. The early Christian presence is still the highlight of Ambrose's church. Notice the beautifully carved pulpit that stands atop the sarcophagus of Stilicho, a 5th c early Christian tomb. Master goldsmith Volvino contributed the two sanctuary treasures, a 9th c ciborium and a golden altar, Altare d'oro (835), with gilt scenes from the lives of Christ and St. Ambrose. Golden visions continue in the dome of the south apse with the Sacello di San Vittore in Ciel d'Oro (6th c), dedicated to St. Victor in the golden sky. Heavenly mosaics depict St. Ambrose among radiant saintly companions. Beautiful frescoes throughout the church include Tiepolo's Martyrdom of St. Victor and the Shipwreck of San Satiro and Bernardino Lanino's Madonna and Child.




This book may be ordered by calling customer service at Zondervan Publishing House at:
1-800-727-1309. Members of the press and other news media are invited to request review copies.


© Copyright Irving Hexham 2000