Duomo di Milano Madonnina: Graceful Guardian of Milan
Soaring majestically above Milan’s skyline, the Gothic Duomo Cathedral symbolizes the city’s rich history and architectural power.
One of the iconic sights of the cathedral is the iconic Madonnina Statue.
Annually, 5 million visitors make their way to visit the Milan Cathedral, the Madonnina Statue, standing at the height of 108.5 meters on the rooftop.
The Rosa Camuna Madonnina, affectionately called by the locals, is a gilded symbol of Milan’s enduring faith and unwavering spirit.
This article shares all details you need to know about the Duomo di Milano Madonnina Statue.
A Brief History Behind the Statue
The idea of placing a statue of the Virgin Mary atop the cathedral can be traced back to the early 16th century.
The first evidence dates back to a 1521 drawing by architect Cesare Cesariano.
However, this vision did not come true until over 200 years later.
In 1757, the Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo, the organization handling the cathedral’s construction, commissioned Giuseppe Perego to create a model for the statue.
After much discussion and trials, Perego’s design of a majestic Madonnina standing with her arms stretched towards the heavens was selected.
Her flowing robes and gentle expression perfectly embodied the essence of feminine grace and divinity.
Bringing Perego’s design to life was no easy feat.
Using his model, coppersmith Giuseppe Bini painstakingly hammered and molded 156 booklets of gold foil sheets over a carved wooden frame to create the statue’s figure.
The final glorious 4.16 meters Madonnina was hoisted to the top of the cathedral’s tallest spire by pulley in December 1774, crowning Milan’s iconic skyline.
Ever since, she has watched over the city through the winds of war and waves of change.
The Spiritual Significance of Duomo di Milano Madonnina
The Madonnina is so much more than mere decoration.
She symbolizes the unwavering Catholic faith and a reminder of the Virgin Mary’s divine protection as she stands tall, watching her city.
Some even claim she possesses miraculous healing powers.
During times of crisis, locals look to the Madonnina for hope and reassurance.
Back in 1607, the Madonnina statue was turned eastwards towards the incoming army of 40,000 Austrian troops, spreading panic through their ranks.
In 1967, the Madonnina’s corroded iron core was replaced by stainless steel.
City officials made a capsule containing a piece of Milan’s historic Santo Chiodo (one of the nails used at Christ’s crucifixion), which was welded inside.
It is believed that this talisman has protected the city for centuries.
More Than Just a Religious Icon: Civic Pride and Identity
Beyond embodying religious devotion, the gleaming golden Madonnina represents Milan’s enduring strength and resilience.
During the famous “Five Days” of Milan’s rebellion against Austrian rule in 1848, rebels boldly raised the Italian flag atop the Madonnina.
This transformed her image overnight from a religious icon to a powerful patriotic symbol.
Since those five fateful revolutionary days, the Madonnina has stood as a reminder of Milan’s fighting spirit and national pride.
To this day, raising the Italian tricolor flag atop the Madonnina marks important national days and civic events.
Restoration and Preservation of the Statue
Centuries of exposure to the elements have weathered the beloved Madonnina.
While the city around her feet transformed from a medieval town to a metropolis, the Madonnina still keeps her silent watch as a steadfast guardian of the city.
The first major restoration came back in 1939, on the eve of WWII.
The city officials cloaked the Madonnina in cloth camouflage to shield her gleaming golden form from being an easy bombing target.
It was not until six years later, in May 1945, that she reemerged triumphantly – just like the city’s spirit.
Since then, the Madonnina at Duomo di Milano has undergone periodic careful restorations to clean and revive her gilded glory.
The last major one came in 2012 with a complete overhaul of the main spire.
Duomo di Milano Madonnina Today
Almost 250 years since her inception, the Madonnina remains one of Milan’s most iconic sights.
Illuminated by spotlights at night, her golden form shines bright amid the Gothic pinnacles.
Today, millions of tourists flock to Milano Cathedral to glance at this guardian angel.
One of the best ways to closely examine the Madonnina Statue is by taking the rooftop tour.
If you wish to learn more about the statue, we recommend you take a guided rooftop tour.