Chapel of Our Lady of the Assumption and St. Francis of Assisi

Particolare dell’interno della cappella (Fototeca ISAL-BAMS Photo Rodella)
Detail of the interiors of the chapel (Archives of the Province of Monza and Brianza)


Next to the noble residence, now completely independent but once connected by a covered walkway to the rest of the villa, is the Chapel of St. Francis, the appearance of which evolved to its current state starting from 1754. The small church was reopened for worship after its restoration by the architect, Francesco Croce, as part of a larger project of restoration and refurbishment of the Limbiate complex. There is a memorial plaque kept in the choir of the chapel itself to commemorate these changes.

Dedicated to the Assumption of Saint Mary and to St. Francis of Assisi, the chapel has more ancient origins. It could have dated back to the Franciscan devotion of the Pusterla family or to the time of the Carcano family, although documentation states that it was present from the period of the Arconati family when it appeared in a cadastral map of 1724. It was Stefano Gaetano Crivelli in particular that dealt with the refurbishment of the small chapel by calling on Francesco Croce, architect and a personal friend. He worked on the property of Limbiate between 1748 and 1754, turning the layout of the structure from rectangular to central. He put a dome with a round opening at the top and elliptical windows with oculus. The chapel which has long hosted public events of Mombello’s parish life is currently larger than the initial ones.
In 1900 a large gallery was built in the front section and in 1923 it was renovated by extending its surface area to include an access corridor that linked the chapel and the old priest’s house which was demolished in the same year. This renovation provided the old aristocratic chapel with its own façade, because it originally was built directly into the villa through a short tunnel. The renovation work was completed between 1922 and 1923, the year of the blessing of the new façade together with the bell which was taken away from the villa and placed on the small bell tower.
Although the façade was radically modified, its 17th-century layout is still visible. Under the eaves there are two Ionic columns and three shaped doors with their original panels. There is a balance between classicism of the basic structure and its rococo components as expressed in structural and decorative mouldings.
History was made in the private chapel of the villa of Mombello as it was the location of two historic weddings. In 1797, in fact, General Napoleon Bonaparte seized the villa sequestering it from the Crivelli family, choosing the Villa Limbiate as the venue for his court; he remained there for six months. Napoleon had brought with him his entire family: his wife, Josephine, his mother, Letizia Ramolino, his brothers, Giuseppe and Luigi, and three sisters, Carlotta, Pauline and Elisa. Two of them were protagonists of the double wedding that was celebrated in the chapel of the villa on the night of 13 June 1797. On that occasion Pauline Bonaparte, then 16 married General Charles Victor Emmanuel Leclerc, while Marianna Bonaparte, called Elisa, married Felice Baciocchi.