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The Duomo’s rebirth after the bombings of the war

The Archive reveals the devastating effects on the Cathedral

DANNI DI GUERRA GUGLIA 2
21 June Jun 2019 1215 21 June 2019

During World War 2, after the city was bombed, one third of the building heritage was destroyed and the main symbols of the city were damaged, including the Duomo. The most important damage dates back to 1943.

Documents filed in the Archive of Veneranda Fabbrica bear witness to the works performed from August 1943 to August 1946 to favour access and functional features for the public of the Cathedral. Reconstruction works were directly carried out by Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo di Milano through its construction yards and specialised workers. Moreover, the correspondence provides the details of the cost of these maintenance works.

The façade of the Cathedral presented multiple signs of the devastation suffered. The pillars and small doors were almost entirely destroyed. The southern side presented the most damage. It was struck along its full length at the base. Moreover, the statues of several spires were missing from its top areas. In the apse, three large windows were damaged by some falling statues. The spire of San Biagio (St. Blaise) was demolished on the northern side. Today we find the statue of Santa Giovanna D’Arco (St Joan of Arc) on the spire previously occupied by the statue of San Biagio.

The Archive treasures many drawings of the survey performed to highlight the damages wrought by the war to the Duomo and to the City. These records are crucial both as detailed and precise evidence of the devastating effects of the war, and as a starting point for renovation works.

Despite the extensive damage suffered, Veneranda Fabbrica immediately started reconstructing the damaged areas of the Duomo with its specialised workers who were trained to carry out the task to the best of their capacity.

Works presenting particular artistic features required special drawings and plaster scale models, and highly specialised execution on marble.

Fabbrica del Duomo has a dedicated technical and artistic organisation, including an Art Department with designers and assistants, its own construction yards equipped with modern machines and specialised marble workers. It is appointed to renovate damaged areas of the Cathedral.

Text by Felicita Abbili and Laura Pagani from the A. Banfi Senior High School for Humanities, Vimercate, relative to the School-Work Alternation period at the Archive of Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo di Milano.