Church of San Fedele: a masterpiece by Pellegrino Tibaldi
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Chiesa di San Fedele

General information

The church of San Fedele, a prototype of the religious architecture of the Counter-Reformation, was built by the Jesuits and the major architect was Pellegrino Tibaldi, Carlo Borromeo’s favourite engineer. Subsequently, Martino Bassi and Francesco Maria Richini also contributed to its construction.

In 1773 the canonicals of the church of Santa Maria della Scala, which had been demolished to make way for the Teatro alla Scala, were transferred to San Fedele enhancing it with remarkable furniture and works of art, including the Deposition of Simone Peterzano, displayed in the first chapel to the left. 

In the 1800’s the Architect Pestagalli completed the facade by inserting a bas-relief of the Assumption of Our Lady into a gable and the statues of San Fedele, San Carpoforo, the prophet Isaiah and King Davide into the niches. The solemn and harmonious church is in typical Catholic Counter-Reformation style, somewhat influenced by nascent Baroque. It has a façade of two orders with twelve pillars of Angera stone donated by S. Carlo Borromeo. The left side of the church is also of particular interest, conceived in close unity with the facade which, due to the richness of its moldings, becomes an element of urban adornment. 

The interior has a single nave divided into two spans with arches supported by six huge columns of pink Baveno granite on high pedestals.

The church crypt conserves the Stations of the Cross in ceramic, a work by Lucio Fontana. 

Don't miss

The main neoclassical altar constructed in XIX by Pietro Pestagalli based on a design by Pellegrino Tibaldi.

The sixteenth-century choir, originating from the church of Santa Maria della Scala, with decorative walnut marquetry dossals depicting perspective views of cities and buildings.

The confessionals, created at the end of the sixteenth century by the Taurini brothers, with carvings depicting scenes from the Passion of Christ.

Anecdotes and curiosities

S. Fedele church, popular amongst the Milanese for its central location, is called the "Sanctuary of the La Scala ballerinas". Herein lays the ancient image once called Our Lady of the Dancers and singers. It is said that the Rattin and the Spinacitt (affectionate names which the Milanese use for the dancers of La Scala) always called in here to visit their "Madonna" and light a votive candle.

It is said that the church of San Fedele is comparable to the Madeleine in Paris, which is the place of prayer customarily attended by the aristocracy, and singularly reflects the formal elegance of ancient Ambrosian houses.

It is said that Manzoni died following a fall when he knocked his head against the balustrade. In the square outside the church a monument that depicts him stands in loving memory.

Useful details

It can be reached by MM1/MM3 Duomo stop; Tram number 1, 2, 3, 12, 14, 15, 16, 19, 23, 24, 27; Autobus 54.

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