Pagan Temple Found Under Cathedral

The people working on excavations in Milan have found a secret under the giant gothic Duomo di Milano: it’s built on top of an ancient temple dedicated to Minerva.

The location shouldn’t come as a surprise, since the Cathedral (begun in the 14th century and finished 600 years later) was constructed at the most prominent spot in Mediolanum, which was once the capital of the western empire and is now modern Milan. St. Ambrose had a basilica constructed on the same site in the 5th century.

The temple would have occupied a central place in the square, and would have been a preferred spot for a Christian church, in part because of its location, and in part because pagan temples often were converted to Christian use.

The details so far are maddeningly vague, since they came as part of a general report on the progress of Milan excavations, which are in dire financial straits due to the economy.

If more details or photos emerge, I’ll do a follow-up.

About Thomas L. McDonald

Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the About tab.

  • kathyschiffer

    I’ve been to the Duomo in Milan. If I recall, St. Charles Borromeo is buried in the crypt. I wonder, is this excavation below that level?

  • Thomas L. McDonald

    I can’t tell. Even some archaeology publications are screwing up the story by mashing together reports from three different excavations. The information must be based on a Google Translate version of an Italian press release.

  • kathyschiffer

    There’s a church in Rome–stumbling right now to remember the name–that is built over three other churches, the first, deepest one being a Temple to the goddess Diana. (Maybe the church is San Clemente??)