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Oratorio di Sant’Ambrogio al castello di Camignolo

National Historic Monument. Built in the X century, it contains frescoes from different periods, including the late Romanesque cycle in the apse.

History of the building

In 1977 an archaeological investigation enabled to find out the original aspect of the oratory, built between the 9th and the 10th century inside the walls of a fortification which walls are still visible.
Compared to what we can see now, the apsidal hall had a northern entrance only, and three windows in the southern wall. There was a wooden roof and a gabled façade.
During the Romanesque period (10th-12th century) a front entrance and windows were added in the apse. In 1719 the walls were heightened; the roof was rebuilt in stone and the façade was modified by the building of a bell tower.

Description of the frescoes

Inside the oratory you can see some frescoes belonging to different periods.
The Majestas Domini cycle painted on the apse dates to the 13th century: there are three registers in which the bright colors and the expressive faces are a typical example of the Romanesque rustic art.
On the apsidal basin we can see the Christ Pantocrator inside an almond and surrounded by the symbols of the four Evangelists. In the central register there is the procession of the Apostles with an angel. In the lower register there is an ornamental curtain.
Between the Apostles you can see some black trails: in fact, in the past, pregnant women who were worried for the lives of their babies, used to celebrate the rite of the Apostolare lighting a candle beside every Apostle. When the last candle burned out, the mother gave her baby the name of the respective saint.
At the sides of the triumphal arch there is a curious variant: two big Archangels dressed in white replace the traditional Annunciation.
On the southern wall there is a fresco dating from the late Romanesque period: it represents Saint Ambrose wearing pontifical vestments surrounded by a city door; this is possibly a reference to the presentation of the new Bishop to the city of Milan.
On the northern wall there is a fresco of the 15th century, which represents the Madonna of the Milk between Saint Anthony Abbot and Saint Catherine of Alessandria and a Saint Rocco dating from the 18th century. This fresco was moved to the parish church after the restoration in 1919, but now it is back to his original location.
On the facade there's a fresco of the 18th century, representing the apparition of Saint Ambrose on horseback during the battle of Parabiago in 1339.


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    Open all year
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    Free entry