Editions it en

Triduum of the Holy Nail and Rite of the Nivola

The presence of the Holy Nail in the Cathedral was first documented at the end of the 14th century

Schedule:07:00 - 18:30 Every:
  • Monday
  • Saturday
  • Sunday
until: 9/14/2020


- 3PM
Vesper service presided over by His Excellency the Archbishop of Milan, Rite of Nivola and exposition of the Holy Nail
- 5.30PM vigil Eucharist

International Day for the Holy Land's works

Eucharistic Celebrations at 7am - 8am - 9.30am - 11am - 12.30pm - 5.30pm

- ore 10.25 Morning lauds
- ore 11.00 capitular Eucharist
- ore 16.00 Vesper service and Procession with the Holy Nail

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Eucharistic Celebrations at 7am - 8am - 11am - 1pm - 5.30pm

- ore 17.30 Capitular Eucharist and Vesper service, Rite of the Nivola and repositioning of the Holy Nail

The Holy Nail has been preserved in the current cathedral since 20 March 1461, when it was solemnly moved from the ancient "summer" basilica of Santa Tecla, which was being demolished by then, into the new and larger Cathedral, still under construction in the area already occupied by the "winter" basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore.

The devotion to the Holy Nail, whose presence at Milan Cathedral has been continuously documented since the end of the XIV century, has always been strong in the Ambrosian community and was encouraged above all by Archbishop Carlo Borromeo, who inaugurated the evocative Nivola rite and introduced the procession carring the illustrious relic of the Passion of the Lord, through the streets of Milan.

He wanted the procession with the Holy Nail to be repeated every year on 3 May, the day of the Feast of the Finding of the Holy Cross according to the ancient liturgical calendar. The attention of the faithful, however, was focused on the initial moment of the ceremony, the taking of the Relic. It was (and still is) preserved in a tabernacle (always marked by a red lamp) placed on the top of the inner vault of the Cathedral, in an eminent place which can only be reached by using a peculiar machine called Nivola. The name, derived from Milanese dialect, designates a sort of “lift” which is shaped like a cloud (nuvola, in Italian) and is decorated with painted canvases, statues of angels and draperies (its present form dates back to 1624). It is the only means by which the tabernacle of the Holy Nail can be reached. Always using the Nivola, the precious Relic was placed in its tabernacle at the end of the celebrations that lasted until 5 May.

With the new liturgical calendar, the feast of 3 May in honour of the Cross has been abolished and therefore the Triduum of the Holy Nail with the rite of the Nivola has been properly restored, also following the complex and long strengthening of the dome shell, by choosing the three closest days (Saturday, Sunday and Monday) to 14 September, the day of the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. On this occasion, at the beginning of the Saturday Vesper service, the reliquary is taken from its tabernacle by using the Nivola and the precious Relic, which is inserted into a large gilded wooden cross, is shown to the people. The Procession, which in San Carlo Borromeo’s time went from the Duomo to the nearby church of San Sepolcro (located in the square by the same name), is today held inside the Cathedral, at the end of the Sunday Vesper service. Finally, on Monday evening, the Holy Nail is placed back in its tabernacle that hangs above the altar and over the whole Cathedral by using the “lift” once again.

The Vesper service presided over by the Archbishop of Milan, Monsignor Mario Delpini (Saturday, September 12th at 3pm), as well as the capitular Eucharist (Sunday, September 13th at 11am) and the final Celebration of the Triduum (Monday, September 14th at 5.30pm) can be followed live on television on digital terrestrial channel 195 and streaming on the Milan Diocese website (www.chiesadimilano.it).

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