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20 November Nov 2014 1615 2 years ago

The precious old Register of donors chronicles popular history

A journey in time to discover the customs and traditions of the fundraising programme of the Veneranda Fabbrica. Together we discover the names of people who “engraved their names in history” five hundred years ago


The Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo has continued its activities over the centuries thanks to the generosity of the people of Milan who have contributed constantly to the continuation of the work on the Cathedral.

The large works site took advantage of the generosity of the public that made it possible to continue. The population’s sense of involvement was such that the Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo could reward these donations not only by guaranteeing the continuation of the works, but also with small acts of immediate gratitude. Among its many documents the Veneranda Fabbrica Archive, the treasure chest of this history, conserves a register of the names of all the people who received a glass of wine in exchange for the generosity they had shown the Duomo! 

The names of small donors have thus survived to the present day, like Martino da Pavia, or Bartolomeo da Borgomanero, the bell-ringer, the porter, and the “pristino” (or baker), like the one described by Alessandro Manzoni in I Promessi Sposi (The Betrothed), in the scene when the crowd assaults the bread ovens! 

This precious register, dating back to the mid 16th century, tells the story and the city’s involvement in the construction of the Cathedral in this list of names. On page after page evidence emerges of the people’s feeling of involvement, which has made the Duomo that incomparable mosaic of beauty that lasts in time. 

The names of all the donors have gone down in history. Today it is still possible to run through this popular narrative, by signing up to the Get your Spire  campaign to support the restoration of the Cathedral! A work that will never stop and which needs everyone’s attention and support.