ST. AMBROSE CHURCH, The Saint's Memories

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Audio File length: 2.22
English Language: English


The Basilica of St. Ambrose is a famous example of Romanesque architecture and sculpture, but if you have time for a more thorough tour, you'll also discover other beautiful works.


Now go down the right nave. Crossing the last chapel you'll reach the point where the basilica's treasure is displayed, which includes high-quality jewelry and rare fragments of the church's original marble dating back almost 2,000 years! The walls and dome in this room are covered with mosaics, and everything has remained almost identical to the time when Milan was the capital of the Empire and a major Christian city. Among the various figures of the Saints, look for the portrait of St. Ambrose: here he seems unusually young with black hair and a short beard, and is depicted quite differently from later versions where he has the appearance of an old man with a bushy white beard! Now pause the audio and go to the crypt.


Now you're in the crypt. Unfortunately the basement, which is supported by numerous columns, was renovated in the 1700s and lost its medieval appearance. Near the martyrs Gervasius and Protase in one of the rooms you can see the large silver and crystal urn that shows, a bit morbidly, the remains of Saint Ambrose. If you cross the crypt and exit through the left nave's side door, one last surprise awaits you.

This elegant Renaissance portico was built at the end of the 1400s by the great architect Donato Bramante (the same who designed the Holy Mary of Grace project!) on the orders of the Duke of Milan, Ludovico il Moro. You can see the duke portrayed in prayer in the bas-relief under the main arch. Carefully observe some of the stone columns, and you'll notice that they're carved as if they were recently-pruned trees!


FUN FACT: thanks to an old custom that has never been abolished, all the Abbots of this basilica are entitled to the title of count and should be called "Excellency"... so make sure that if you per chance meet an Abbot of Saint Ambrose, you speak to him properly!


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