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  • Writer's pictureGeorgiana Tufeanu

Chiesa di San Tomaso

The legend of this church sets it apart, but the highlight of the church is the footprint of Christ placed here by the archbishop of Milan, Federico Borromeo in 1597.

In addition, there is the legend of a priest that was buried alive in here in the early fifteenth century. Read the rest of the story in the history section.

Address: Via Broletto, 27, 20121 Milano MI

We will explore:

1. Architectural Identity & Art – why you should visit

2. History of the church

Architectural Identity & Art – why you should visit


-Lateral Chapels: pray or admire



Opened: 1576

The place is often quite dim outside service hours. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its charm. You will most probably find it as one of the most silent churches in the area of Brera.

If you decide to be a bit away from the very touristic and crowded itineraries, this is your best choice right in the center of the city. Don’t miss it!

The interior has a longitudinal plan and a single nave. Pay attention to the decoration of the floor and nave (incredible mosaic).

The particularly beautiful neoclassical altar was designed by Giuseppe Zanoia. This famous architect, poet and religious had a great impact in Milan’s architecture. He was part of many projects like the façade of the great Duomo Cathedral, interior and exterior of Pallazzo Archinto.

Lateral Chapels: pray or admire

Chapel of the Immaculate – where you can find the footprint of Christ. How to find it? It’s easy if you follow these steps:

1. Choose the door in the right to enter the church.

2. Then go to the chapel with Virgin Mary’s Statue crowned by Saint Carlo Borromeo.

3. The footprint is about 50 cm from the ground on the left wall.


Having eight impressive columns at the entrance the church makes it stand out from the surroundings.

The well known neoclassic architect Girolamo Arganini built the limestone façade between 1825 and 1827 in a neoclassic style.

He authored multiple works on private commission in the city as the Golden Hall of Pallazzo Spinola and Palazzo Borromeo d’Adda.


One of the many pieces in the altar is The glory of Saint Borromeo created by Giulio Cesare Procaccini.


The complete name of the church is San Tomaso in Terramara. Amongst the multiple explanations for the origin of the name ‘Terramara’, a mention to an ancient Milanese legend that says a priest was buried alive here.

During the times of Giovanni Maria Visconti, Duke of Milan, the priest of the church was known to be greedy. How much? Once, he refused to celebrate the funeral of a poor man whose family did not have the money to pay for the ceremony.

The facts reached the Duke, or according to a different version, he himself witnessed the tirade in between the priest and the family of the deceased.

Giovanni Maria Visconti ordered the priest to be buried alive in the church. According to the legend, this is the origin of the name San Tomaso in Terra Amara (literally, “Bitter Land”) or Terra Mala, later contracted in Terramara.

A place of ancient legend and beautiful art work, mistery and greatness, San Tomaso is worth visiting even if you're not in the area!

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