Amid astonishment and surprise, on Monday 8 May 2017, the former President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, devoted a whole day to the city of Milan, visiting places of particular historical and cultural importance with particular attention to the Duomo, the international symbol of the city.
When he arrived at the monumental entrance in rose-coloured Candoglia marble, Obama was greeted by Mons. Gianantonio Borgonovo who, as Archbishop of the Duomo of Milan and President of the Veneranda Fabbrica, welcomed him on behalf of the Fabbrica and of the Metropolitan Chapter.
Obama then visited the interior of the Cathedral where he admired the Main Altar framed by the magnificent stained glass windows of the apse, crowned by the Sol Justitiae: the “raza” (ray) that is the emblem of the Visconti family. He continued his visit by going down into the Cappella Iemale (Winter Chapel) with its frescoed ceiling vaults and rich 16th century stuccowork, and then climbing to the Terraces amongst the tall Spires and the sculptural decorations that make the Duomo the greatest example of international Gothic style architecture.
During the visit, which lasted about forty minutes, Barack Obama was also presented with gifts, namely Il Duomo di Milano e la Liturgia Ambrosiana, a bilingual book edited by Mons. Marco Navoni, and a white Duomo Cuckoo Clock. The latter gift, inspired by the unique and unmistakable profile of Milan's Duomo with its 135 Spires, was created exclusively by Diamantini & Domeniconi, the Italian company that since 2014 has worked with the Veneranda Fabbrica on the “Get your Spire: carve your name in History” fund-raising project to support the restoration of the Cathedral.
Three very valuable, unique Duomo Cuckoo Clocks gilded in gold leaf, 100% Made in Italy, have been created and from today will be the offered in an online auction promoted by the CharityStars website. The auction is open to anyone who wishes to make a bid and contribute to the important Get your Spire project.
It is a gesture that represents commitment and responsibility towards art and culture, first and foremost, and in particular towards one of the most important and landmark monuments of Italy itself.
The sensitivity shown by the former President of the United States towards the Cathedral cannot but demonstrate the bridge built between Milan and New York, consolidated in 2014 with the founding of International Patrons of Duomo di Milano, the US charity set up to spread the Cathedral's message in the United States too and appeal for commitment to the needs that the Duomo, despite its glorious centuries of life, will no longer be able to meet on its own. Indeed, everyone's help and involvement are needed to support the international symbol of Milan: a global concerted effort enclosed in the maternal protective embrace of the Madonnina.