The treasure preserved within the Grande Museo del Duomo di Milano, property of the Metropolitan Chapter, has been a symbol of Milan's iconic Cathedral since its origins. Born from an act of faith, it is still a living patrimony that is taken down from the display case and "dusted off" for special celebrations and liturgical occasions.
It was the Duomo that inherited the objects which once belonged to the Cathedral's subsidiary basilicas in Milan: the summer one, the early Christian basilica of Santa Tecla, partially demolished in 1471; and the winter one, the Carolingian basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, whose altar became the current table of the high altar. Once before, in January 1400, an inventory of the sacristy was drafted which provided a list of the items subdivided in "capitula", or categories of furnishings. At the time these liturgical objects, necessary for the services conducted by the chapter's clergy, embellished the sacristy, the altars, and the crypt. Then, for conservationist and institutional reasons, a portion of this collection (such as sculptures, processional crucifixes, chalices and monstrances, and objects in silver and ivory) were moved and put on display in the first two rooms of the museum.
Dating back to the time of Borromeo are three silver busts depicting St. Tecla, St. Charles Borromeo, and St. Sebastian, created by Pietro Francesco da Como to contain the relics of the Cathedral, as per the instructions of St. Charles. The entire series, comprised of 12 pieces, was displayed on the high altar during celebrations.
Traditionally belonging to St. Charles, in the last display case of the treasury are the chiselled and gold plated processional cross, with gemstones and rock crystals, and the crozier of St. Charles, made in Lombardy workshops.
Possibly dating from the early 17th century, despite its famous attribution, cast in gilded silver, the crozier's hexagonal shrine-shaped pommel has 6 slots containing small statues of the saints; and its curved head in the shape of a dolphin is topped by the ’Agnus Dei, or the Mystic Lamb with Book. Both being symbols of authority and of the priest's governance, next 24 September the crozier will be used for the new Archbishop's solemn visit to Milan's cathedral.
Come visit the Grande Museo del Duomo everyday from 10.00 am to 6.00 pm, closed Wednesdays.
Duomo Info Point
Piazza Duomo 14/a - 20122 Milan
Everyday 09:30am - 5:30pm