Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Anniversary of the Founding of the Church in Milan

According to an old Ambrosian tradition, March 13 of the year 51 was the date on which the church was founded in Milan, when the Apostle St Barnabas baptized the first Christians of the city anciently called Mediolanum. The story tells that as a challenge to the local Druids, who were still active in the areas outside the city, he planted a cross in the middle of a magic circle which they used in their rites. (Celtic pagan priests did in fact use magic circles, into which they would fix a curved rod to take auspices from the position of the stars.) This stone, preserved as a relic, is now in the church of Santa Maria al Paradiso, in the center of the city on Corso di Porta Vigentina. By immemorial custom, on this day a cross is inserted into it, in remembrance of the first wooden cross so fixed by the Apostolic founder of the church of Milan. (Thanks to Nicola de’ Grandi for the pictures and description.)
The stone where St Barnabas fixed the cross, as seen today in S Maria in Paradiso. The inscription reads “On March 13 in year of the Lord 51, St Barnabas the Apostle, as he was preaching the Gospel of Christ to the people of Milan, in a place near the walls at the via Maria by the eastern gate fixed the banner of the Cross in this round stone.”

An historical photo of the wooden Cross fixed into the stone on “el tredesin de Marz”, as it is called in Milanese dialect.

St Barnabas baptizing the first Christians of Milan.
A graphic showing the relative positions of certain stars and constellations as marked on the magic stone.

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