28 JulyApse Spire-G101
Symbol: palm branch

Early information about the story of San Celso martyr is provided by the biography of St. Ambrose, who in 395 found the bodies of the two martyrs, Celso and Nazarius, buried in a field just outside the city of Milan. The story of their life is handed down to us by the hagiographic tradition, which places the event in the 1st century AD and portrays the two martyrs as the evangelists of many north Italian cities. Nazarius was a Roman citizen from a Jewish family and a legionary, who converted to Christianity and moved to Gaul to escape persecutions. Here a matron entrusted him with little Celso, a child who was barely nine years old. The master brought Celso up in the Christian faith and gave him the sacrament of Baptism. Together they continued the task of spreading the new faith, travelling around southern France up to Trier. It seems that they were arrested in Trier and boarded on a ship that had to throw them overboard in the open seas. However, the two escaped death. Legend has it that, when they were thrown into the sea, they started walking on the waters. Then a storm broke out that terrified the sailors who asked Nazarius to help them. The waters immediately calmed down and the ship reached Genoa, where Nazarius and Celso continued their evangelisation throughout Liguria, finally reaching Milan, where they were arrested and sentenced to death. The figure of San Celso martyr at the top of the Spire G101 is a reproduction made around the mid-1900s by Arturo Malerba. We can say that it is one of the few statues of Duomo di Milano to be portrayed with the palm branch, the iconic symbol of martyrdom, and of victory, ascent, rebirth and immortality. San Celso is portrayed attired with a Roman tunic and sandals, elements that present him as a Roman. The beard seems to suggest the figure of a veteran general who converted to Christianity and then suffered martyrdom. He has nothing to do with the child portrayed by the hagiographic tradition. This is the case because sculptors working at Fabbrica del Duomo often conceived the statues in an entirely personal manner.