The Civic Temple of the Blessed Virgin Mary the Crowned was built in a “lost” corner of Lodi, a suburb where love was sold for money and violent fights regularly broke out in the streets.
One day in 1487, a miracle happened: a small 14th-century effigy of Mary, inside the local brothel, shed a tear for the human desolation that surrounded it, expressing the quiet pain of a mother in front of her lost children.
The Gospel reads, “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.” The tears of the Marian fresco were full of hope for that promise to come true for the dispossessed, the prostitutes and the drunkards living in that terrible part of Lodi.
According to tradition, Mary asked the people to build a sanctuary right there – and it was the city’s secular authorities who listened to her request: indeed, to this day, the temple belongs to the municipality, not the dioceses.
Construction began in the late 15th century (in 1488 to be precise) but continued until the early 1500s. The octagonal temple was built and decorated sumptuously thanks to citizens’ donations, and designed by one of Bramante’s students in Lombardy first, and then by Ticino architect Giacomo Delbuono.
Year after year, the church has become more splendid, turning into an art gallery that is “joyful, smiling, full of adornments and lovely caprices, like those of a child who is allowed anything” – in the words of Milanese art historian Giuseppe Mongeri in the late 1800s.
Enjoy this burst of beauty and faith in today’s gallery.