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  • Writer's pictureGeorgiana Tufeanu

Santi Patroni d'Italia Francesco d'Assisi e Caterina da Siena

Updated: Sep 30, 2021

This church’s design is so unique that you’ll be amazed just by standing in front of it.

Remarkable in the area because of its tent shape, every aspect of the building

has a story behind. Why a tent? The meaning is taken from the Bible where the tent was the meeting place between God and Israel, serving as a mobile sanctuary in the desert. However, in Christianity, the Body of Christ is the new Temple.

We will explore:

  1. About the Patron Saints

  2. Architectural Identity: why you should visit

  3. Art

  4. Unique features

About the Patron Saints

If you haven’t read yet the article about Saint Francis of Assisi posted last week, you can read it right here.

But who is Saint Catherine of Siena?

She is the patron saint of Italy together with Saint Francis of Assisi.

She is considered ‘the defender of the homeland and religion’.

Always represented in icons or paintings holding a book and a lily, they recall the purity of the saint. The name ‘Catherine’ in Greek means ‘pure woman’ so in a way it makes it all come together, like a predestined name.

Catherine dedicated her life to help the sick and the poor through many acts of charity. She took care of the most forgotten, often offering them even her clothes, because she was able to see Jesus in them.

Even if not having studied, she wrote multiple letters and manuscripts about justice. In one of her letters to the Consuls of Bologna she wrote about peace and justice as the underling social and moral growth of a state. In 1378 she finished her work ‘Dialogue of Divine Providence’, touching Christian theology subjects.

stained glass representing a pope in santi patroni d'italia san francesco d'assisi e santa caterina da siena

She was canonized in 1462 by the Pope Pius II and declared one of the Patron Saints of Italy by Pope Pius XII in 1939.

Pope Paul VI named her Doctor of the Church in 1970 and finally, in 1999 John Paul II proclaimed her Saint of Europe together with S. Brigit of Sweden and S. Benedetta della Croce (Edith Stein).

Architectural Identity: why you should visit


Inside the beautiful spacious church, the light comes from vertical slits creating a beautiful immersive environment.

“One particular architectural detail is the remarkable optical effect produced by the two columns that together with the support beams of the bell tower form the letter “M”, the initial of the name of Maria. “ [1] The hanging Christ on the Cross above the altar was created by Italo Costantini and has quite a powerful visual effect.

Be in complete silence while you hear the water pouring down from above in the baptistery. There you can see seven streams of water that symbolize the gifts of the Holy Spirit (wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord).

Lateral Chapels

You can admire the wonderful oil on canvas depicting the Holy Family.


You will not expect to see such an impressive church when you walk in this area of the city. This neighbourhood (also the Jewish one) is one of the most silent in Milan.

If you feel like stepping out of the crowds and need some peace of mind, you can walk the airy boulevards in here.

In this Franciscan oasis, you will be surprised to see the church in the shape of a tent with a pyramidal spike containing six bells vertically. The slender pyramidal structure has a 45 meter tall bell tower that shines beautifully in the sun light.


I consider this church a piece of art because of its beautiful architecture.

You don’t want to miss seeing and walking around Via Crucis, art work by Itali Costantini.

The altar, work of art by Renato Valcari, is as impressive as it gets depicting many Saints and Angels.

Unique features

In close proximity to the church, the Oasi is a place for people that go to Milan seeking medical treatments or for those who come to the city to study or work. (more information on their official website).

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