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The women of Milan’s Cathedral

La Donona rappresentata in una statua sul muro della cattedrale di Milano. The Donona' statue which you can find on the wall of the Milan's Cathedral. «Донона» изображена на Миланском соборе, но где именно?

By Ugo Rossi – translation by Jack Davidson Walmsley

Building a Cathedral is no easy task; If we talk about the Duomo of Milan then our thoughts run backwards and evoke moments and situations that for us are not even imaginable.
Today I will tell you the story of two women very different from one another, that most certainly aroused a lot of curiosity at the time.

The Milan's Cathedral - The Duomo -in the heart of the city Milan. Photo by EnjoyItalyGo before COVID19 sanitary emergency.
Milan’s cathedral. Photo by EnjoyItalyGo (before COVID19)

The first story is about Caterina di Abbiateguazzone, a very poor old woman, who offered her services by cleaning and transporting stones from the construction site.
One day she decided to make a donation towards the construction of the Cathedral, selling the only fur she owned.
When the clergy found out about this, they were so moved that they decided to give her back the money,  she then decided to fulfil a dream of hers: a pilgrimage to Rome.

The Madonnina- this golden statue is located on the topo of the Milan's cathedral roof and looks all over the city. This photo by EnjoyItalyGo, has been done at EXPO Milan 2015.
The Madonnina- this golden statue is located on the topo of the Milan’s cathedral roof and looks all over the city. This photo by EnjoyItalyGo, has been done at EXPO Milan 2015.

The second story is about a Prostitute turned into a Good Samaritan, Marta de Codevachi also known as “Donona”.
Originally from the Veneto Region, Donona moved to Milan in search of a better life,  she became quite rich by selling her services to the local men, so much so that, thanks to her activity, she ended up buying several properties in the city that allowed her to live at ease.

But at a certain point in her life something changed leading her to fully commit herself to the poor and needy.
She became a charitable woman and adopted Venturina, a little girl who got abandoned because her parents couldn’t afford to raise her.

The Donona’ statue which you can find on the wall of the Milan’s Cathedral.

In early 1394 Donona fell ill and immediately focused her thoughts towards the Virgin Mary and the Cathedral.
Promptly calling a notary and writing her will in which she allocated all her assets towards the construction of the Duomo, but on condition that the officials took care of her fostered daughter Venturina;
She also requested for a good and suitable husband to be found for her friend Margherita whom she used to work with at the brothel, furthermore leaving her a huge dowry to enable a fresh start to life based on chastity and honesty.

Once Marta had died, an impressive funeral was arranged with a large presence of clerics and priests who escorted her coffin down the streets of a crowded city.
 Feeling up for a challenge?
When you pass through Milan, approach the Duomo and look at the various statues. Among them, if you look carefully you will find her: Marta de Codevachi.
Let us know once you have found her and send us an email with your findings at redazione@enjoyitalygo.com so we will have it published on our social media pages!

Jack Davidson Walmsley cooperate with EnjoyItalyGo traslating papers from Italian to English

Jack Davidson Walmsley

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