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Sant’Eustorgio

Not many people know that the remains of the Three Kings are preserved in this Basilica and even fewer people know the strange story that brought them here.

Only recently, it turned out that the history of the Three Kings was just a fake-news. It was traditionally believed that Gasparre, Melchiorre and Baldassarre were three wealthy sovereigns who, once known about Christ’s birth, decided to walk towards Bethlehem full of gifts. The thing was, halfway through they met Erode and spilled the story, accidentally causing the blind wrath that would kill all the newborns in the region. It is even believed that Erode had recruited the Kings as spies, asking them to geo-localize Jesus and then report to him, but thanks to the interference of an angel no one told a thing.

Ostello Bello Milano Sant Eustorgio

Photo by Alice Gemignani

Actually, it’s not sure those were the real Kings’ names, nor they came from Persia, India and Arabia, nor they followed a shooting star. Be that as it may, in Milan we have a piece of that story. In Basilica di Sant’Eustorgio, some of the Kings’ relics are guarded, or at least the heavy sarcophagus that carried them. It seems the cart transporting it was so heavy that the oxen couldn’t take it anymore, so they stopped in Porta Ticinese before reaching their destination. Eustorgio, who was bishop of Milan and therefore quite powerful, decided it was no problem: if the relics couldn’t go to the Basilica, then the Basilica would go to the relics. He had his namesake Basilica built.

Ostello Bello Milano Sant Eustorgio

Photo by Alice Gemignani

At some point the relics were even smuggled to the orders of Federico Barbarossa and brought to Colonia. In 1906 Cardinal Ferrari had a small part returned; it is now preserved in a urn. One can notice the presence of the Kings in the belltower, which is topped by an eight-point star – symbolizing the shooting star that led the Kings to Bethlehem – instead of the cross. If you had expected to see all the Three Kings in Sant’Eustorgio and now feel disappointed, make up with a visit to Cappella Portinari, Vincenzo Foppa’s masterpiece: at the center there is the beautiful Arca di San Pietro Martire. It is said that before dying, he dipped his finger in his own blood and wrote the words: “I believe”.

Ostello Bello Milano Sant Eustorgio

Photo by Alice Gemignani

Basilica di Sant’Eustorgio
Piazza Sant’Eustorgio 1, Milano
☎︎ 02 5810 1583

M2 Porta Genova
Bus 4774 Piazzale Cantore
Tram 3910 P.zza Ventiquattro Maggio