• LOCATION 28 | The Mysteries of Milan: From the Duomo to the Royal Palace

    Church of Sant'Antonio Abate

    Stop here in front of the church on your right.

    The Church of Sant'Antonio Abate stands on the site of a monastery that once had a small hospice run by a group of Antonine friars since the 13th century. Their specialty was to cure patients who had an affliction known as St. Anthony’s Fire or more commonly “shingles”. They used an ointment derived from the fat of pigs. They and the inhabitants of this district kept a farm of little black piglets for this purpose.

    That's why you can see the second saint from the right has a little piglet on a lead.

    Once you've had a look, keep walking while I tell you more.

    To mark the animals out, they had the letter “T” firebranded on them. This was one of the symbols of their saint Anthony who hailed from Egypt and it signified victory over epidemics. So that’s why images of Anthony the Abbot (not Anthony from Padua) often feature him with a black piglet on a lead with tongues of fire at his feet. You’ll also see him carrying a T-shaped stick in his hand with a bell dangling from it which would reference the bell the diseased would have to wear to signal their arrival. that’s one way of telling people you’re on your way. I think I’d prefer to make a phone call.

    Continue walking straight.

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The Mysteries of Milan: From the Duomo to the Royal Palace