top of page
  • Writer's pictureGeorgiana Tufeanu

Basilia di Sant'Ambrogio

On this blog we are always talking about the churches in Milan and their patron Saints. But do you know who the patron Saint of Milan is? Today we are going to explore the church where you can find Saint Ambrose’s relics as well as the center of the Ambrosian rite.

We will explore:

1. History of the church

2. Architectural Identity & Art: why you should visit

3. Curious facts

History of the church

What exactly is the Ambrosian rite? “It’s a liturgical rite practiced in the Catholic Church in Milan and Lugano, Switzerland with a number of differences from the rite practiced by the Roman Catholic Church, among which the Easter fast and Christmas fast have different dates together with other practices."[1].

This church plays an important role in the Milanese history and in the Ambrosian teachings.

When you will visit remember that you will walk where the Christian martyred by Roman persecutions are buried. Along with Saint Ambrose himself (buried in 397), you will see other martyrs and Saints inside the basilica. It’s a powerful experience that will take you back in time and you will be able to imagine how dedicated to their faith these people were.

Architectural Identity & Art: why you should visit

Architectural style: Lombard Romanesque

Opened: 1140


You will be delighted when visiting this church. The large open space is inviting because of the natural light. It’s a church that is visited all day. You will often see architecture students making sketches of it or taking inspiration, alongside tourists and photographers.

Your eye will be drawn to be altar’s ceiling to one of the most beautiful mosaics in Milan, representing Jesus on the throne surrounded by Saint Gervasius and Protasius on a gold background.

Crypt of Saint Ambrose - it was built in the second half of the 10th century and it accommodates the remains of the saints: Gervaso and Protaso together with Ambrose.

On the official website of the church you can see a virtual tour.


Sacellum of San Vittore in Ciel d'Oro is a chapel and on its ceiling you can observe a mosaic which is one of the best known early Christian works of art. Saint Victor is depicted at the center of the mosaic. A portrait of Saint Ambrose is also visible. Studies on the remains of Saint Ambrose have confirmed that the mosaic depicts Ambrose’s actual appearance.

• You will notice on a roman column with a sculpture of the Serpent of Moses. This is one of the few examples of sacred art that survived iconoclastic wrath of King Hezekiah (the 13th king of Judah). Byzantine Emperor Basil II donated it to the church in 1007.

Curios facts

• The first act of “The Lombards on the First Crusade” opera by Giuseppe Verdi is set in this basilica.

The Royce Hall of the University of California, Los Angeles (1929) is inspired by the facade of Saint Ambrose’s basilica.

If you enjoyed this article please share it on your social media or with anyone that might want to visit Milan! <3



23 views0 comments


bottom of page