Exceeded in size only by the Duomo, the Church of Santa Maria della Passione represents one of the most important and solemn sacred buildings in Milan.
Constructed upon the vestiges of the previous ancient chapel, at the behest of the wealthy prelate Daniele Birago (1486), the Church of Santa Maria della Passione still retains the ancient fresco of the building from which the church took its name. The prelate then donated the edifice to the Lateran Canons Regular of Sant'Agostino, who enlarged the church with the monastery that is still present today.
The cult of the image of Maria Addolorata (Our Lady of Sorrows) continues to attract pilgrims as the Church is linked to the testimony of a Marian apparition, dated 1590. Be it truth or tradition, what is most certainly assured is the presence of artistic treasures, for example, those that homogeneously narrate the theme of Holy Week and the Passion of Christ.
Giulio Cesare Procaccini, Bramantino, Daniele Crespi, Il Bergognone: these are just some of the many renowned artists whose works were commissioned to adorn the Church of Santa Maria della Passione. It would be impossible to describe the vastness of the collection of artworks in the interior; indeed the Church is often equated with an art gallery. The superb decoration of the chapels in the right nave is well worthy of note; if you raise your eyes to heaven, you will notice that the sequence of friezes construct the story of Christ on the Via Crucis.
Also not to be missed is the cycle of frescoes in the Sala Capitolare, by Ambrogio da Fossano known as Bergognone, that represent Christ and the apostles on the walls, the saints in the lunettes, and the Lateran canons on the redolent starry sky.
The Church of Santa Maria della Passione vaunts the presence of two rare carved organs that are positioned facing each other. Built between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the right-hand organ is by Antegnati, the left by Valvassori. Still today classical organ music concerts for four hands are held in the church.
The ancient Augustinian monastery, adjacent to the church, now houses the historic Giuseppe Verdi conservatory. The large auditorium, for symphonic and choral music, can host an audience of up to 1,800. The library houses over 80,000 volumes, 400,000 music literature booklets and various manuscripts of composers such as, Mozart, Paisiello, Rossini, Verdi and Bellini to name a few.