Article Cronaca Milano of 12/01/2009 – “Paradise of lights in the church of the Last Supper”
by Piero Lotito:
You would not want to exaggerate, but with the new lighting system, entering the basilica of Santa Maria delle Grazie is a bit like entering Paradise. A soft and warm light welcomes faithful and visitors in what is one of the most important churches in Milan, and which boasts, in addition, the extraordinary “appendix” represented by the Cenacle: the former Refectory of the Dominican Convent, today a state museum, but still linked to Santa Maria delle Grazie, its history, its cloisters, to his friars.
It was a dull light, the one that until last year gave the naves a peripheral and melancholy church appearance. Thus, the Dominicans, with the direction of the Superintendence for Environmental and Architectural Heritage, have started the project of a new lighting system, replacing the shabby circuit dating back to the distant 1960s, now out of the norm and very risky (the roof of the church, remember, is made of wood). The works, which began in March 2008, were officially completed last September, but the installation of the ancient chapel of Santa Maria delle Grazie, in the heart of the basilica, still remains to be renewed.
The total cost of the works is 700 thousand euros, faced by the Dominicans themselves with the contribution of some bank, some private individuals and the offers of the faithful themselves (the collection continues, because everything is still to be paid). The effort, strongly appreciated by the faithful and visitors, is remarkable, and on the other hand it is a few years that the efficient Dominican binomial-Superintendence is bringing back to splendor the basilica of the Cenacle, let’s call it that, even resorting to the most modern technologies. The detail of 14 new chandeliers – of vague Leonardesque inspiration, built by a company in Padua – is pleasantly striking, placed to illuminate the thread between the central and lateral naves, while the lighting of the vault of the same naves is resolved with lights that give the whole a simple but strongly suggestive effect of soft light. In the church are placed at the disposal of visitors some boxes that, with the offer of only 2 euros, illuminate the dome of Bramante, the naves and chapels towards Corso Magenta. A way to contribute to the expenses and, in the meantime, to give those who enter the pleasure of bringing the … light. It is worth recalling that in recent years the internal restoration of Bramante’s Dome has already been carried out, in addition to that of the entire church (internal and external) and the facade. The Old Sacristy was also restored and the Small Sacristy, called “Rediscovered Room”, was redeveloped. Work is now being completed on the anti-theft, fire-fighting and security systems, including the latter a circuit of cameras. In short, even Leonardo, who obviously set foot in Santa Maria delle Grazie at the time of the Last Supper, would appreciate these latest discoveries in electronics and lighting science.
Article MILANOviva of 16/01/2009 – “New light on Graces”
Renewed the lighting of the church – by Filippo Rizzi:
For a few weeks a discreet and soft light has welcomed the faithful in the Basilica of Santa Maria delle Grazie, a place of worship built and designed by Bramante. A piece of architecture that is, a few meters away, from the Last Supper.
The Dominican friars, with the direction of the Superintendence for Environmental and Architectural Heritage, have started the project of a new lighting system, replacing the shabby circuit dating back to 1960, now out of the norm and very risky (the roof of the church is made of wood).
The works, which began in March 2008, were officially completed last September, but the layout of the ancient chapel of Santa Maria delle Grazie of the bramantesco cloister still remains to be renewed. “It was – says the prior Virgilio Ambrosini – a work that did not touch the walls and the structure, but where the original structure of the church was respected, thanks to the wise direction of the architect Fabio Nassuato”.
And the Dominican prior noted: “Many of the faithful have noticed details, thanks to the new lighting, that were not seen before”.
To impress visitors are the 14 new chandeliers, of vague Leonardesque inspiration, built by a company in Padua. In the bramantesca church are made available to tourists and faithful some boxes, which with 2 euros, illuminate the ancient fifteenth-century temple in every corner. The cost of the works was about 700 thousand euros. “Thanks to our ancient savings of the convent, the good heart of the faithful, of many banks and a check granted for these interventions by the presidency of the Council of Ministers of 130 thousand euros – says the prior – we were able to already pay a part of money. 300 thousand euros are still missing. But we are convinced that we can pay all the cost of the new plant”. An enlightenment that seems to have changed the way of living the liturgy during the Masses. “It seems to me that the main purpose has been achieved: to restore the Church – he reflects – to the faithful in her beauty”.
The Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie since 1980 has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site, together with the Cenacle by Leonardo da Vinci which is located in the refectory of the convent.