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  • Writer's pictureGeorgiana Tufeanu

Chiesa del Sacro Volto - Church of the Holy Face in Milan

Updated: Aug 4, 2021

Sacro Volto is a beautiful church located in the Isola district. The main altar contains a famous photography by Giuseppe Bruner of the Holy Shroud located in Turin. This photo depicts the Holy Face of Jesus and is one the most important works from Bruner.

If you feel the need of contemplating the Holy Face of Jesus, you might want to give it a try!

No more than 5 minutes walking from Bosco Verticale and surrounded by aperitivo places, this is a church worth visiting.

Even if the church has the Ambrosian Catholic rite, each Sunday the Greek Catholic rite is celebrated here for people of Ukrainian origin, as is one of the reference points for Ukrainian migrants in the city.

We will explore:

1. History

2. Architectural Identity: why you should visit


The church was consecrated in 1936 by the archbishop of Milan Cardinal Ildefonso Schuster. He was particularly devoted of the Holy Face and he wanted to share with the people attending the church a photography of it.

Giuseppe Bruner was a talented photographer sometimes called “papal and bishop photographer”. In Rome, he portrayed popes Pius X, Benedict XV, Leo XIII and Pius IX. What made him famous was his technique of transforming photography by modifying the negative. Everything that he authored was a work of art.

Located on the main altar, the photography of the Holy Face of Jesus still to this day creates in people the same sense of awe as when it was originally revealed.

Architectural Identity: why you should visit


As you enter the church, you will feel welcomed into a bright open-space and your attention will be captured by the altar and the two golden lateral chapels.

As you walk the corridor towards them, large paintings depicting events from the life of saints will guide you through and offer you the opportunity to interiorize yourself and get into the mood of the silent place. The natural light creates a relaxing, joyful atmosphere and ten marble columns divide the central nave.

The main altar was designed by Ottavio Cabiati, well known ecclesiast architect of Milan and the author of two other churches in the city: Chiesa dei Santi Silvestro e Martino and Chiesa dei Santi Pietro e Paolo a San Giuliano Milanese.

Lateral Chapels

Chapel to the right of the altar

Wonderfully executed by the same architect of the altar, this chapel is dedicated to Saint Joseph. He is depicted, as usually, holding Baby Jesus in his arms. The chapel is very tall and layered with a golden mosaic of extraordinary splendor.

Chapel to the left of the altar

Exactly like the other chapel, this one as well shines bright due to a golden mosaic. Dedicated to the Immaculate Virgin Mary, the main painting, work of Rino Ferrari is one of dramatic quality. There are always white candles in the front of it, reflecting the light of the prayer around the space. This is the perfect place to stop, stay in silence, and talk with Mary.


Surrounded by multiple buildings, the church has an imposing but harmonious appearance. When you get in front of it, your eye will be attracted by the most beautiful element of the façade: a bas-relief representing the Holy Face of Christ.

Looking further you’ll notice a Cross in the center of the top of the façade. Two statues representing Saint Magdalene and Saint Veronica are near it, creating a dramatic effect, but also offering an interesting element to the architecture.

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