Italy’s “culture budget” is smaller this year; but the Duomo requires essential maintenance, even in a lean economy. The gargoyle adoption program is an effort to protect the world’s fourth-largest cathedral and, as Cathedral management has stated, “to encourage the Milanese and citizens of the world to be protagonists in the history of the cathedral.”
I should note that there will be no chainsaws and no grand dissembling of the sixteenth-century Duomo. Indeed, you’ll be rescuing and preserving the grand cathedral. For a contribution of $123,000, each donor will have his or her name engraved on a plaque which will be mounted beneath one of the gargoyles. Oh, and bargain hunters: I’m sure there will be some sort of framed certificate or photo album included for free.
About the Duomo
It took 500 years to complete this white marble masterpiece with its forest of pinnacles and spires, flying buttresses and statuary. One of the largest cathedrals in the world with 14,000 square feet, it was designed to accommodate 40,000 worshippers. Construction began in 1386, on a site dedicated to Fourth-Century Milan bishop St. Ambrose, one of the Doctors of the Church. The building was consecrated by St. Charles Borromeo in 1577. Napoleon Bonaparte ordered the completion of the façade in 1805, and he was crowned King of Italy within its walls. Mussolini commanded the construction of the 5-manual, 225-rank pipe-organ, which is the largest in all of Italy. Both St. Ambrose and St. Charles Borromeo are buried in its crypt.
It was at a much earlier church on the site of the present Duomo where St. Augustine studied the faith and where he was baptized.
An aside: The Duomo is dedicated to Santa Maria Nascente—the child Mary. As it happens, today is the Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, when we remember Mary as an innocent and holy three-year-old, entering the Temple in Jerusalem.