At the beginning of its history (i.e. middle of 15th Century) the St. Sigismund’s church had been entrusted to the Monks of St. Jerome.
Later on, Bianca Maria Visconti wanted it to become a commemoration of her marriage to Francesco Sforza, which had been celebrated in 1441 in a small church managed by the Vallombrosian Monks and devoted to St. Sigismund (Sigismondo in Italian). She then gave order to start the restoration works on 20th June, 1463. You can still catch a glimpse of the first stone when entering the church, in the first chapel on the right. The church was eventually completed in 1492.
The church is built in Albertian style, has therefore no aisles but lateral chapels instead. After stepping into the church, you cannot fail to see the gates in forged iron and brass, the wooden choir and stalls (16th and 17th Century), the 17th-century marble inlay work of the high altar, all of them towering at the other end of the building. The frescoing works started in 1535 and were carried on throughout several years. In spite of the participation of several painters (such as Camillo Boccaccino, Giulio Campi, Bernardino Campi, Bernardino Gatti, Antonio Campi and many more), the frescoes in St. Sigismund’s church are stylistically harmonious and homogeneous, and they rank amongst the most significant examples of decorative artwork of the sixteenth CenturyMannerism of Northen Italy.
Do not miss the series of frescoes of the apse, choir, transept and nave, and make sure you give the altarpieces and the twelve side chapels the attention they deserve, especially the stuccoes in the latter ones. The organ was built by Luigi Vincenzo Acerbis in 1861, using the pipes of the old organ, which Giovanni Francesco Ranieri had constructed in 1567. You will find it in a 15th-century wooden case above the left side of the choir. Before you leave, have a look at the series of paintings dating from the 6th and 7th Century. The work was begun by Camillo Gavasetti in 1625 and carried on by Giovan Battista Natali, Robert de Longe, Angelo Massarotti, Marcantonio Ghislina and Giuseppe Natali.
Next to the church you will find the cloister of the ancient monastery, which was finished in 1505. The connecting door between cloister and church was gifted to the monks in 1535 by the local noble family Sacca. This oaken door is carved with heraldic symbols of the Visconti and Sforza families. Opposite to the door is the entrance to the monks’ refectory, which houses the Last Supper, painted in 1508 by Tommaso Aleni. He was the first artist in the region to be inspired by the Last Supper theme by Leonardo da Vinci in the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan.
When the Monks of St. Jerome were suppressed in 1798, St. Sigmund’s church had already a been a simple parish since 1774. It remained such until 8th December, 2007, when the Dominican cloistered nuns of the Monastery of St. Joseph Fontanellato (Parma) moved in.
Today the church and the monastery have returned to their original function.
Dominic († 1221), founder of the Order of the Preachers, «united the nuns to evangelization through prayer and testimony of a life of mutual charity. As voice of the church, they praise the Lord daily through liturgical prayer, so that the Word by which the Lord reveals his love for us isn’t returned to Him without results but may bring goodness to those whom the Word has been given».
The church is open
Every day from 06.45 to 12.00 and from 15.00 to 18.30.
The cloister and the choir can be visited on May 1st (St. Sigismund) and the third Sunday of September (anniversary of the church’s dedication) from 09.00 to 10.30 and from 14.00 to 17.30.
The Community of the Dominican Nuns of S. Giuseppe Convent celebrate at St. Sigismund’s Church the Eucharist and the Hours. All are welcome to participate.
SUNDAY AND SPECIAL FUNCTIONS
18.00 First Vespers (Saturday)
11.00 Holy Mass
17.00 Second Vespers
07.00 Holy Mass
THURSDAY (from March to November)
07.00 Holy Mass and Eucharistic adoration
From November to March during the week functions take place in the winter choir, entrance via the Main Alter beyond the choir screen.
Reserve your visit
In order not to disturb the religious functions of the church, tourists groups are kindly asked to indicate the day they would like to visit contacting: 0372 801700
How to get here
The church and the convent can be found near the Central Hospital in Cremona and are easily reached: by car: following the road signs for the hospital itself (leaving the town in the direction of Parma); using public transport: take all lines for the Hospital (Ospedale) and Bagnara-Bonemerse.