Church of St. Ambrose and St. Charles

Fotografia da elicottero della chiesa dell’ex ospedale psichiatrico provinciale di Limbiate (Fototeca ISAL-BAMS Photo Rodella)
Aerial view of the church and former provincial asylum of Limbiate (ISAL-BAMS Archive, Photo by Rodella)

In 1867, a first group of patients from the Milanese mental asylum of Senavra, which was by then overcrowded, was transferred to the Villa in Mombello, renovated by Engr. Francesco Lucca under the supervision of the Director, Cesare Castiglioni.

The hospital was later modified and extended several times to be able to host the growing number of patients. The completion of the structure coincided with the interventions on the chapel, until they finally decided to build a new Church that could contain a great number of patients during the sacred rites. In 1937 the Church was built by Engr. Carlo Fontana and consecrated to the saints, Ambrose and Charles, on 14 September 1941 by Cardinal Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster.
The new Church was supposed to be dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi, patron of the Parish and to St. John of God. But through the express wish of the Archbishop of Milan, it was dedicated to St. Ambrose, patron saint of Milan.
The Church rose in the areas north to the hospital in proximity with the provincial road leading to Bovisio, and had a capacity for a thousand people. The church was built in neo-medieval style and this is evident in the neo-15th-century facade with reinforcing beams, simple lancet windows and small rose windows.
The Church strongly resembles the Milanese religious buildings of Santa Maria Incoronata and Santa Maria Bianca in Casoretto. Brick was chosen for the finishing, and was able to highlight the marble of the main portal and the lunette which was decorated with a relief work of Ivo Soli dated 1939, depicting Jesus in the act of healing the sick.
The lateral walls of the single-nave Church is enlivened by the rhythmic presence of single-lancet windows with tiny rose windows.
The construction was completed with a bell-tower where three bells were inserted that chimed the hours of the day in the asylum and marked the time for prayer: two of these came from the former Palace of Justice in Beccaria square in Milan. Unlike the other asylum structures, the Church was characterised by an unusual Greek, cross floorplan of big dimensions. It was open to the citizens of Limbiate who were thus able to physically meet or see the patients interned in the provincial structure.