Monza Cathedral

Monza Cathedral

Monza Cathedral (Italian: "Duomo di Monza") is the main religious building of Monza, near Milan, in northern Italy.


According to the legend, the church was commissioned by the Lombard Queen of Italy, Theodelinda. She had made a vow to build a church entitled to St. John, and when riding along the Lambro River, she was halted by a dove who told her "Modo", Latin for "here", to which she replied "Etiam" ("yes") . Monza itself was initially known as "Modoetia".

In 595, she had a "oraculum" (Queen's chapel) built on the Greek Cross plan; of this chapel only the walls exist today. The Queen was buried here, in what is now the central left aisle. On the remains of the "oraculum", a new church was erected in the 13th century. The basilica was again rebuilt, starting from 1300, in a Latin Cross plan with octagonal tiburium. In the late century, the side chapels were added and, as designed by Matteo da Campione, the Pisan-Gothic style façade in white and green marble was begun.

Starting from the 16th century, the choir and the ceiling were restored. Subsequently, the walls and the vaults were decorated with frescoes and stuccoes. The bell tower was erected in 1606 while, in the 18th century, a cemetery was annexed on the left side.


The massive façade is divided into five parts by six lisens. Each of the latter is surmounted by a tabernacle housing a statue. The façade has several mullioned windows with, in the centre, a large rose window framed by a motif inspired to Roman antique ceilings, decorated by rosettes, masks and star motifs. The façade is considered Romanesque in the structure and Gothic in the decoration. Typical of the latter is the porch, with 14th century gargoyles on the sides and the 13th century lunette with the 16h century busts of Theodelinda and King Agilulf. Over the porch is the statue of St. John the Baptist (15th century). Over the portal is depicted the Baptism of Jesus, assisted by St. Peter, the Holy Virgin, St. Zachary and St. Paul. In the upper section is portrayed Theodelinda offering to St. John the Baptist the Iron Crown, together by his kneeling husband Agilulf and their son Adaloald and Gundeberga.


The church has a nave and two aisles, separated by octagonal columns with Romanesque capitals and round columns with Baroque capitals. It ends with large apses, and has a series of chapels opening in the aisles.

The wall decoration is overwhelmingly Baroque. Other artworks include a choir by Matteo da Campione, the high altar by Andrea Appiani, the presbytery and transept frescoes by Giuseppe Meda and Giuseppe Arcimboldi.

In the right transept is the entrance to the Serpero Museum, housing the Cathedral's Treasure with the Iron Crown.

Theodelinda Chapel

Apart the Iron Crown, the most famous attraction of the Cathedral is the Chapel of Theodelinda. It has 15th frescoes from the Zavattari workshop. The depict the stories of the Queen's life, such as the dove episode, her marriage proposal, her meeting with Authari, the latter's death in battle, and the new marriage with Agilulf. All the figures are portrayed with rich garments typical of the Visconti era.

The vault is decorated by 14th century figures of saints and evangelists enthroned. On the outer arch is instead Theodelinda with her court homaging St. John the Baptist.

ee also

*Iron Crown of Lombardy

External links

* [ Official website]
* [ Page with images of the frescoes] it icon

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