Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Temple to Goddess Minerva Found Underneath Milan Cathedral

Yet another example of a later day church planting itself over the ruins of a sacred place from an earlier time. 

Pagan temple remains unearthed under Milan Cathedral

Presented alongside Mediolanum Forum finds

29 January, 16:17

ANSA) - Milan, January 29 - The remains of a pagan temple believed to have been devoted to the goddess Minerva have been found under the Milan Cathedral.

The announcement was made Wednesday during the presentation of other archaeological finds, the remains of the ancient Mediolanum Forum discovered recently under the basement of the building housing the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana and the Biblioteca Ambrosiana.

Archaeological excavations to unearth the remains of the large city that, beginning in 292 A.D., was the capital of the Western Roman Empire for over a century continue despite funding difficulties. So far, part of the floor made out of what is known as 'Verona stone' has been found. The base of a section of an arcade can also be seen. The entire forum occupied an estimated surface area of 166 by 55 square meters. While waiting to be able to extend the excavations, the zone has been fitted with a special entrance on the side of the building, walkways, and illustrative signs to make visits by the public possible. The works were conducted with funding from the Cariplo foundation and the Lombardy regional government and are part of the project for a 'Milan Archaeology' route being readied for the 2015 Milano Expo, said regional culture councillor Cristina Cappellini.

Information on the Milan Cathedral from Wikipedia:

Milan Cathedral (Italian: Duomo di Milano; Lombard: Domm de Milan) is the cathedral church of Milan, Italy. Dedicated to Santa Maria Nascente (Saint Mary Nascent), it is the seat of the Archbishop of Milan, currently Cardinal Angelo Scola.

The Gothic cathedral took nearly six centuries to complete. It is the fifth largest cathedral in the world[1] and the largest in the Italian state territory.[2]

Milan's layout, with streets either radiating from the Duomo or circling it, reveals that the Duomo occupies what was the most central site in Roman Mediolanum, that of the public basilica facing the forum. Saint Ambrose's 'New Basilica' was built on this site at the beginning of the 5th century, with an adjoining basilica added in 836. The old baptistery (Battistero Paleocristiano, constructed in 335) still can be visited under the Milan Cathedral, it is one of the oldest Christian buildings in Europe.[3] When a fire damaged the cathedral and basilica in 1075, they were later rebuilt as the Duomo.[4]
As you can see, the start of the "Christians" building over the Minerva temple site dates all the way back to 335 CE! "Paleocristiano," indeed.  The "New Basilica" began to be added just after the turn of the century, in circa 400 CE!  By way of comparison, at that time many Egyptian temples to the "old" goddesses and gods were still in service. 

As far as I can determine, since I was not able to find a single entry online (not even in the Catholic encyclopedia) on the meaning of "St. Mary Nascent" -- is that this identifes Mary, Jesus' physical mother on Earth, as the bearer of Jesus and thus, as the mother of the "nascent" church (remember Jesus' words, referring to himself, NOT to the Apostle Peter:  Upon this rock I shall build my church).  That is merely an educated guess, however. 

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