San Maurizio at the Maggiore Monastery is a church in Milan, once the seat of the most important female monastery in the city, belonging to theBenedictine order, located at the corner between via Luini and corso Magenta, of origin Early Christian, rebuilt in the sixteenth century. It is decorated internally with a vast cycle of frescoes by the Leonardesque school and is referred to as the "Sistine Chapel" of Milan and Lombardy.
The monastery is already documented in the epoch Carolingian and partly reuses some Roman buildings; a polygonal tower, the rest of the ancient walls of Massimiano, and another square one, which originally was part of the Roman circus, are still part of the complex.
The construction of the existing church began in 1503, as it is engraved on a stone found in the apse. Having lost any documents relating to its design, it is attributed by critics to the architect and sculptor Gian Giacomo Dolcebuono, assisted by the architect Giovanni Antonio Amadeo, at the time responsible for the construction of the lantern of the Milan cathedral, and also active at the Certosa di Pavia and the church of Santa Maria near San Celso. The building was completed in a very few years, so much so that in 1509 the first tombstones were already placed. Lastly, the façade was completed in 1574 by Francesco Pirovano.
The church, which also included a crypt, now included in the visit of the archaeological Museum, was conceived divided into two parts, a front, public hall, dedicated to the faithful and a larger, rear hall, reserved exclusively for the nuns of the monastery. The nuns could in no way cross the dividing wall; the doors of communication between the two halls were opened only after the suppression of the convent, in the nineteenth century. They could assist in the carrying out of the function, which was officiated in the hall of the faithful, through a large grate placed in the arch above the altar. For this purpose, the floor level in the convent church is about half a meter higher than in the public hall. The grate, which once occupied the entire arch above the altar, was reduced at the end of the sixteenth century by order of the archbishop Carlo Borromeo, to make the cloistered regime more rigid. In its place was placed the altarpiece with the adoration of the magi still in place today.
The imposing fresco decoration, which made the temple famous, praised by Ruskin and Stendhal, was begun in the second decade of the sixteenth century by authors of the Leonardo da Vinci school, engaged in those years in Milan to the Virgin of the Rocks, which perhaps John Antonio Boltraffio.
Address: Magenta 15 Course, Milan