In the photo held in the Photographic Archives, the Madonnina is covered, blindfolded so that she cannot see the horrors of the war.
On 10 June 1940, Mussolini made his announcement from the balcony overlooking Piazza Venezia in Rome that Italy was going to war alongside its ally Germany. Only five days later, Milan suffered its first air raid. The main concern of the Fabbrica del Duomo was to protect the artistic treasures and the documents in the archives from possible bombings and wartime destruction.
The echo of the words of the Duce and the bombs were still resounding strongly amongst the spires, when the deputy director of the Veneranda Fabbrica, in a report dated 18 July 1940, analysed the efforts already made to protect the Duomo and its treasures. The documents of the Historical and Musical Archives were placed into sturdy metal cases, which were than tied with string and secured by lead seals, and moved to the underground strong rooms of the Cassa di Risparmio delle Province Lombarde bank.
Some statues considered to be most at risk of damage were removed, the stained-glass windows were dismantled and the most valuable objects were placed in the crypt of the Cathedral for safe-keeping. On the contrary, “the Madonnina donned the grey-green of army uniforms and was wrapped in fifty metres of cloth by the acrobatic workmen responsible for hanging the flag on her”.
All to protect the symbol of Milan its treasures.