Duomo di Milano
(interior of the Cathedral’s retroquire)
Stained Glass window 25
Presentation of renovation works on the stained glass window of San Giovanni Damasceno (St John of Damascus) at the Duomo di Milano
28 June – 01 September 2019
Opening hours: from Monday to Friday: 9.00 am – 6.00 pm; Saturday: 9.00 am – 5.00 pm;
Sunday: 1:30 – 3:30 pm
Admission with a valid ticket to access the Monumental Complex of Duomo di Milano
starting from € 3.00/2.00*
“There is a lonely place amidst these aisles, besides the altar,
under the stained glass windows, where daylight is mellow and golden;
I decided to go there to read Dante […]”
Percy Bysshe Shelley, Letters. In: Peacock’s Memoirs of Shelley, 1818
In a letter dated 1818 sent from Milan to his friend and confidant Thomas Love Peacock, the great British poet Shelley describes a specific place in the apse of Duomo di Milano, under the Cathedral’s large stained glass windows (the largest in the world) where he loves to read Dante’s Commedia in the mellow golden light. It is a mystical site where the Cathedral’s finished space merges with the inner infinite. To experience Shelley’s feeling, in this very site caressed by the great “cascade of light” (citation of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) that flows abundantly from the large stained glass windows of the Duomo, Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo di Milano is organising, from 28 June to 1 September 2019, Stained Glass Window 25. This public exhibition in the Cathedral’s retroquire presents some ancient and precious doors from the 15th century Stained Glass Window no. 25 dedicated to San Giovanni Damasceno. They have been recently renovated, and will soon be placed back in the original site, at a height of 15 m from the ground.
The initiative, which is open to all those who visit the Duomo, finally offers a close view of these precious glass masterpieces with all their magnificent details and refined particulars, a genuine Biblia pauperum of the city of Milan for almost six centuries.
HISTORY OF THE ANCIENT STAINED GLASS WINDOW OFFERED BY THE APOTHECARIES OF MILAN IN ‘400
The stained glass window no. 25 is above the altar of Santa Prassede (Saint Praxedes), on the northern side of the Duomo, between the end of the chevet and the beginning of the apse. It is one of the oldest stained glass windows in the Cathedral, and presents as a tryptich made up of three pointers with a total of 38 doors along with the superior rose window and 25 small shaped stained glass windows filling the stone pilaster strips. The stained glass window proposes episodes from the life of San Giovanni Damasceno. Attributed to Niccolò da Varallo, produced in 1478-1480, it was offered by the College of Apothecaries, the pharmacists of the time, as homage to their patron, San Giovanni Damasceno. It was originally placed in the southern transept. Already needing renovations in 1539, the window was probably moved on that occasion to window 25 of the northern transept. It was later subjected to several subsequent interventions even in the 1800s, supervised by Architects Giuseppe Vandoni and Paolo Cesa Bianchi of the Veneranda Fabbrica. Moreover, Architect Bianchi launched one of the first photographic campaigns in 1883.
THE RESTORATION PROCESS
Renovations of the window, approved by the City of Milan’s Archaeology, Fine Arts and Landscape Department, and carried out by Laura Morandotti’s Workshop, could not be postponed as the window’s deformed frames impaired the structure. Removal of organic deposits that made the scenes almost unreadable revealed extraordinary details and surprising particulars that are presented by Veneranda Fabbrica to Milanese and visitors to the Duomo this summer for a close study. The restored doors will be placed back in their original site in autumn this year.
SAN GIOVANNI DAMASCENO (St. John of Damascus), “FATHER” OF SACRED IMAGES
Giovanni Damasceno was a leading figure in the history of Byzantine theology in the 7th century, an eminent expert in the history of the Universal Church. He was especially an eyewitness of the change from Greek and Syrian Christian culture to Islamic culture. A saint to whom the stained glass windows at the Duomo perhaps–indirectly–owe their existence. In fact, St. John of Damascus was the protagonist of a determined opposition against those who denied the possibility of using images for worship and in Christian churches. Indeed, according to the Saint, God chose mankind to reveal himself, and was incarnated in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary to become a man among humans in the Son Jesus, and to manifest his appearance. His sermons on the images underpin the complete rehabilitation of John of Damascus and his canonisation by the Orthodox Fathers who were summoned to the Second Council of Nicaea in 787, the seventh ecumenical one. San Giovanni Damasceno was proclaimed Doctor of the Church by Pople Leo XIII in 1890.
* The hours, tour route and opening hours of ticket offices might be subjected to variations and/or limitations due to liturgical celebrations, the indications of Public Safety Authorities, the organisational needs of Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo di Milano or in case of bad weather.
For information about any changes in the schedule, visit this page.
Duomo Info Point
Piazza Duomo 14/a - 20122 Milan