Milan – The Basilica of Saint Nazaro in Brolo

One of the Early Christians Basilicas of Milan

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The Basilica of Saints Apostoli and Nazaro Maggiore (originally named as Basilica Apostolorum) commonly known as the Basilica of San Nazaro in Brolo, is one of the oldest churches in Milan, located in Piazza San Nazaro in Brolo. It is the oldest Latin cross-shaped church in Western art history, created in this form to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, as testified by an epigraph placed on the walls of the choir. The complex consists of the basilica and the subsequent Trivulzio Mausoleum and Chapel of Santa Caterina, both of them are Renaissance structures. The Trivulzio Mausoleum, a monumental chapel designed by Bramantino, covered the original facade of the basilica, radically changing its appearance. Along with the Basilica Prophetarum, Basilica Martyrum, and Basilica Virginum, the Basilica Apostolorum is considered one of the four Ambrosian Basilicas, that is, those built by Saint Ambrose.

The basilica takes its name from the Broletto Vecchio, also known as the Brolo of the Archbishop or the Brolo of Sant’Ambrogio, the first documented seat of government of the city during the period of the communes in the late Middle Ages. The Broletto Vecchio gave its name to the Brolo district, of which the Basilica of San Nazario in Brolo is a part. The Broletto Vecchio ceased to function in this role in 1251 when the municipal seat was transferred to the Palazzo della Ragione, which is also known as the Broletto Nuovo. The Broletto Vecchio was then renovated and transformed into the Royal Palace.

Built between 382 and 386 in the late imperial Roman period at the behest of the bishop of Milan, Ambrose, during the time when the Roman city of Mediolanum (modern-day Milan) was the capital of the Western Roman Empire (a role it held from 286 to 402), it was severely damaged by a devastating fire in 1075 and was rebuilt in Romanesque forms. Numerous transformations took place in the 17th and 18th centuries, with the interior parts being renewed in Neoclassical forms between 1828 and 1832. It is one of the Paleochristian basilicas of Milan.

The right transept preserves some important works of art. On its left side is the Crucifixion of Bonino da Campione: this bas-relief, dating back to the 14th century, depicts with extreme clarity and truthfulness Christ dead on the cross with his mother Mary and John the Apostle and Evangelist kneeling at his sides. On its right side, there is a Renaissance Last Supper by Bernardino Lanino.