Eucharistic celebrations 7am – 8am – 11am - 5.30pm
- 5.30pm - Blessing of the candles, Procession with the icon of the Madonna dell’Ídea and Holy Mass celebrated by His Excellency Monsignor the Archbishop
It is possible to follow the 8am and the 5.30pm celebrations live on television on the digital terrestrial channel 195 and in streaming on the Diocese of Milan website (www.chiesadimilano.it).
A precious bass-relief of the latter half of the 12th century, formerly at the ancient church of Santa Maria Beltrade – now at the Archaeological Museum of the Sforza Castle – enables us to reconstruct the Marian Procession of 2 February, feast of the Presentation of the Lord at the temple (called Candelora by popular tradition), as it was organised in Milan in Medieval times.
This work of art illustrates two priests carrying the cusp-shaped Marian image, a cleric with the Wayside Cross, a deacon with the Gospel, the Archbishop with mitre and staff, and, finally, the cleric of the Cathedral with lighted candles.
The name Ídea appears under the Marian image. To date, on 2 February, the Procession of the Madonna dell’Ídea is celebrated at the Duomo. It is a cusp-shaped tablet portraying on one side (versus) the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, with Mary and aged Simeon and Anna (protagonists of the episode from the Gospel proclaimed on this feast day: Luke 2, 22-40), and on the other side (rectus) the Enthroned Virgin with Child. It is the work of Michelino da Besozzo and, according to recent restoration works, dates back to 1428.
The Procession, in medieval times, reached the Cathedral from the Church of Santa Maria Beltrade, which once stood where the namesake Square is located today in via Torino. Instead, it is now held inside the Duomo, and starts at the altar of the Madonna dell’Albero, where the candles distributed to the Cathedral Chapter and to the faithful are blessed. A large candle is also lit at the top of the cusp of the Ídea, the surviving ancient custom of adorning the Holy Cross or Sacred Images with lighted candles as a sign of celebration and homage. During the Procession, the Madonna dell’Ídea is carried on the shoulder, on a special board, by two deacons and placed in display on the main altar during the celebration of Holy Mass.
Scholars have extensively discussed the origins of the name Ídea given to this Marian image. Some say it derives from the pagan cult of the Magna Mater Ídea, Cybele, mother of the gods, in honour of whom processions were held in ancient times to invoke fertility for the land. In this case, we would be faced with the Christianisation of ancient pagan cults, with the contentious replacement of Cybele, called by the name Ídea and deemed mother of the gods, with the actual Ídea, the Mother of God, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Other scholars have considered this explanation poorly convincing, and propose interpreting the term Ídea with its etymological Greek meaning: simply «image».
Wednesday, 2 February, feast of the Presentation of the Lord. At 5.30 pm, Archbishop Monsignor Mario Delpini will celebrate, at the Duomo, the Rite of the Blessing of the Candles and the Procession with the icon of the Madonna dell’Ídea, followed by Holy Mass, with the participation of the Metropolitan Chapter, of the priests, monks, nuns of the Diocese, for the World Day for Consecrated Life.