Exceeded in size only by Duomo, the Church of Santa Maria della Passione is 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 original building from which the church took its name. The prelate then donated the edifice to the Lateran Canons of St. Agustine, who enlarged the church with the monastery that still exists 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, such as 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 compared to an art gallery. The superb decoration of the chapels in the right nave is particularly noteworthy; by raising up your eyes, you will notice that the sequence of friezes narrates Christ's Via Crucis.
Also not to be missed is the cycle of frescoes in the Sala Capitolare, by Ambrogio da Fossano known as Il Bergognone, that depicts Christ and the apostles on the walls, the saints in the lunettes, and the Lateran canons on the spectacular 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 16th and the 17th centuries by expert and celebrated organ builders' families, they are played to this day in four-hand concerts held in the church.
The ancient Augustinian monastery, adjacent to the church, now houses the historic Giuseppe Verdi conservatory. The large auditorium, used for symphonic and choral music, can host an audience of up to 1,800. The Conservatory's music library is the richest in Italy and hosts an impressive number of volumes and musical publications and items, including various manuscripts by composers such as Mozart, Paisiello, Rossini, Verdi and Bellini, to name only a few.