S. Maria Annunciata in Camposanto 1

S. Maria Annunciata in Camposanto

The initial name “Camposanto” (graveyard) dates from the years when the first stones of the Duomo were being laid and the time when Milanese citizens were not troubled by hygiene and health issues, but felt the need to keep their dear departed close at hand.

For this reason, in 1395, Veneranda Fabbrica began building a cemetery designed by Giovanni de’ Grassi, which envisaged the erection of a colonnade resting on the piers of the Duomo's apse, in the area until then occupied by construction material and the dwellings of those building the cathedral, and where a small chapel dedicated to the workmen stood.

The name “Santa Maria” derived on the contrary from a large legacy received in 1399, when a devotee of the Blessed Virgin Mary bequeathed his fortune for the building of a chapel, either inside the Duomo or in the Camposanto, with right of burial for himself and for his heirs.
Lastly “Annunciata”, which owes its origins to a miracle, the story of which has been passed down to us thanks to Latuada (Milanese priest and historian) whereby a magnificent marble bas-relief by Seregni and Pellegrini, depicting a scene from the Annunciation, lay under the colonnade of the Camposanto, awaiting installation inside the Cathedral.

One day a sick man stopped to pray before the bas-relief and was instantly cured, an event that moved the whole city and convinced the Veneranda Fabbrica to give the bas-relief a prominent place inside the building that was being constructed, which it was decided to call Santa Maria Annunciata (St. Mary of the Annunciation).

In February 1661, the Camposanto permanently ceased to be a cemetery, and became the church where the Vestrymen could attend Holy Mass collectively on Sundays.
The present appearance of the church derives from a design by Giovanni Battista Quadri, which introduced the dome, built in 1740, while a bas-relief showing the Eternal Father and the frescoes of the vaults (the most beautiful of which is a pictorial composition with the four cherubs) were added in 1747 when the two altars were built: that of the Four Crowned Saints, martyred patron saints of stone masons, and that of St. Anthony of Padua.

This little octagonal church currently has three polychrome marble altars: on the high altar there are two bas-reliefs, that of the Annunciation and of the Eternal Father, while on the altar on the right the martyrs St. Narbor and St. Felix are portrayed, and there is an oval with St. Lucy at the foot of the altarpiece. On the altar on the left is the altarpiece dedicated to St. Anthony of Padua.