Chiesa di San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore

Church in Milan

Chiesa Di San Maurizio Al Monastero Maggiore
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Zairon

San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore is a church in Milan, Northern Italy, originally connected to the city’s most significant Benedictine female convent, Monastero Maggiore, which now houses the Civic Archaeological Museum. Today, the church hosts Byzantine Rite services in Greek according to the Italo-Albanian tradition every Sunday from October to June and also serves as a concert hall.


The church complex dates back to Lombard times, incorporating parts of ancient Roman buildings. Remaining Roman structures include a polygonal tower, part of the ancient Maximian walls, and a square tower that was part of the lost Hippodrome and now serves as the church’s bell tower. The former monastery is now Milan’s Archaeological Museum.

The Benedictine Monastery is documented from the 8th-9th century, originally dedicated to Mary. In 964, Emperor Otto I donated a relic of St. Maurice to the monastery. The complex was once surrounded by extensive vegetable gardens.

The church underwent a complete rebuild starting in 1503, designed by Gian Giacomo Dolcebuono in collaboration with Giovanni Antonio Amadeo, and was completed fifteen years later by Cristoforo Solari. It was divided into two sections: one for the faithful and one for the nuns. In 1864, the monastery became municipal property.


The church’s façade is clad in grey stone from Ornavasso. Inside, a vaulted nave is separated by a division wall, with nuns attending mass from behind a grating. The nave is flanked by groin-vaulted chapels topped by a serliana loggia.

The church’s most notable artwork is the 16th-century fresco cycle covering its walls, primarily commissioned by Ippolita Sforza and her husband Alessandro Bentivoglio. Their daughter was a nun at the monastery.

The dividing wall features frescoes of the Life of San Maurizio by Bernardino Luini, flanking an altarpiece of the Adoration of the Magi by Antonio Campi. Chapels in the congregation’s area were decorated by Bernardino Luini’s son, Aurelio, and his brothers. The counter-façade includes a fresco by Simone Peterzano (1573). In the third chapel on the right, the Besozzi chapel, Bernardino Luini frescoed the martyrdom of St. Catherine of Alexandria (1530). The frescoes also show influences from the Forlivese school of art, including Melozzo da Forlì and Marco Palmezzano.

“Aula delle Monache”

The hall of the nuns is entirely painted. The partition wall, also by Bernardino Luini in the 1530s, features images of Saint Catherine, Saint Agatha, the Marriage at Cana, the Carrying of the Cross, and the Crucifixion. The vault of the hall is painted with a starry sky, depicting God, the Evangelists, and angels, with an Ecce Homo painting at the end.


The hall of the nuns houses a 1554 organ by Giovan Giacomo Antegnati, entirely mechanical, with a 50-note keyboard and a 20-note pedal constantly connected to the keyboard. It is located in the choir loft above the choir stalls on the right side.

The Chiesa di San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Milan!

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Visiting Chiesa di San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore

Address: Chiesa di San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore, Corso Magenta, Milan, Metropolitan City of Milan, Italy
Duration: 20 minutes

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