Italy Milan Santuario San Bernardino alle ossa

The origins of the ossuary and the church of S. Bernardino are dated back to the thirteenth century. In 1145 Gotifredo da Bussero built a hospital near the Basilica of St. Stephen's in via Brolo. In front of the basilica was built a cemetery to bury those who died in this hospital, but after a few years the space was inadequate and so, in 1210 was erected a charnel house to reunite bones exhumed from the cemetery itself. In 1642 the bell tower of the basilica of St. Stephen, who was in front of the charnel house, fell into ruin even dragging the Ossuary. It was then rebuilt from the ground and completed only in 1695, and that is what exists today. The dome of the new ossuary was painted by the Venetian painter Sebastiano Ricci: in the cup-shaped paintings are the souls in purgatory who ascend to the glory of paradise among a multitude of angels. Alongside this important baroque painting in Milan the Ossuary Chapel presents another point of interest: the inner walls of the building is almost completely covered with skulls and bones that were found in the ancient ossuary along with those that were exhumed removed from the cemetery after the hospital closed in 1652. All the bones were placed in niches, on the cornice, adorning the pillars, decorated doors. In this sense macabre motif blends with the graces of the rococo style. Above the marble altar, decorated with emblems of the Passion of Jesus Christ, there is a statue of Our Lady of Sorrows de Soledad, dressed in a white coat and covered by a black blanket embroidered in gold, with folded hands, close to Jesus Christ. Performed in the mid-eighteenth century during the Spanish domination by Gerolamo Cattaneo and dedicated to Clelia Grillo Borromeo is similar to the Holy Mary in churches of Seville, Toledo and other Spanish cities. A curiosity: in 1738 King John V of Portugal was so impressed by the Ossuary Chapel-made copy in every detail to erect a similar in Evora, near Lisbon.