Thursday, September 10, 2020

A Rare Historical Photograph from Milan Cathedral

On September 10, 1910, His Eminence Andrea Cardinal Ferrari, Archbishop of Milan, initiated a special series of celebrations to commemorate the third centenary of the canonization of St Charles Borromeo, which took place on All Saints’ Day of 1610, in the reign of Pope Paul V. The relics of St Charles are in a large urn which is normally over the altar of a chapel in the crypt of Milan cathedral; for centuries, it was the custom that bishops would celebrate at this altar when visiting the city. For this special centenary celebration, the urn was brought up to the main church, and set in front of the large preaching pulpit at the edge of the principal sanctuary. At the time, it was still very unusual for photography to be allowed at all in churches, even for major events, but our Ambrosian writer Nicola de’ Grandi just found this very nice photo of the relics thus exposed, although the figures in the foreground have clearly been retouched.

Here is another view of the relics displayed, with the Cardinal kneeling before them, attended by several mitred canons. When Andrea Ferrari was appointed to the see of Milan in 1894, he took an extra name “Carlo” as a sign of devotion to his sainted predecessor in the see of St Ambrose. At a guess, this image would probably have been made for an Italian period similar to the old Life Magazine.
And here is a collage of images which show the relics displayed in the cathedral, the decoration of the church’s façade and interior, and a group of civil and ecclesiastical dignitaries with Cardinal Antonio Agliardi, the Papal envoy to the centenrary celebrations.

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