The Crematorium Temple of Milan

In 1866, the Monumental Cemetery of Milan became operational and a few years later a Crematorium Temple was built inside it.
The temple was designed by the Italian architect Carlo Maciachini, who adopted a classical style including many masonic symbols.1

The inauguration took place on the 22nd of February 1876 with the cremation of the masonic entrepreneur Alberto Keller, who supported the thesis of the cremation with perseverance, in particular during the last years of his life.2

In Italy, the debate around cremation was split into four parallel aspects: hygienical, forensic, moral and religious. Due to the fact that cemeteries had been built in the surroundings of the city, an increase in pollution was observed. As a consequence, a clash between society and environment broke out.3

The Temple remained active until 1992. Its closing down was due to hygienical matters and its deterioration.4 Despite that, the Temple is still a testimony of the nineteenth-century Positivism and its faith in the value of science.

VIEW FROM THE OUTSIDE


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The temple is situated in a raised position compared to the planking level of the cemetery, while five small steps allow visitors to enter the building.

This position is of absolute relevance as it represents the acme of the main boulevard, which links the main architectonic structures of the cemetery: Famedio, Ossario centrale and the Crematorium itself.5

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The etching: Tempio Crematorio per volontà del nobile Alberto Keller / eretto e donato alla città di Milano

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VIEW FROM THE INSIDE


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Malachia De Cristoforis' bust, made by the sculptor Orazio Grossoni.6

Above it, three recesses host three urns belonging to the Nobili Paravicinis.

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Alberto Keller's epigraph: Questo sacrario / per munificenza del nobile Alberto Keller / donato nel 1876 a la città di Milano / gli edili / fregiano nel 1879 / di nuove opere / e tre anni dopo / munito di cinerari ampliavano / per voto del comune.

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Pulvis es et in pulverem reverteris is engraved above the furnaces.

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The building started playing a key role in the revival of the procedure of cremation, which had already been used by the ancient classical civilizations, soon becoming a model imitated by other cities.

At the beginning, the Crematorium Temple hosted a furnace projected by Celeste Clericetti and Giovanni Polli, but years later, their method would be considered rudimental by the scientist Paolo Gorini.7

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Paolo Gorini's epigraph: Auspice splende / 
su questa aria purificatrice / 
il nome immacolato /
 di 
/ Paolo Gorini 
/ filosofo della natura
 / che / 
rinnovando il senno antico / 
restituiva / 
a salute e decoro delle genti / 
la cremazione / 1883.

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Giovanni Polli's epigraph: All’onorata ricordanza del prof. / Giovanni Polli / biologo e chimico insigne / per l’igiene per il sentimento / propugnatore convinto della cremazione dei cadaveri / al cui raggiungimento sin dal 1877 fece decretare / concorso a Premio dall’Istituto Lomb. Di Scienze Lettere ed Arti / egli primo nell’ideale tecnico apparecchio / e con l’ausilio del prof. Clericetti usando il gas / inceneriva la venerata salma del filantropo Alberto Keller / la cui munificenza / procacciò i mezzi iniziali della civile riforma / riconoscente la società di cremazione/ il dì 1 novembre 1896.


  • Photos and main text by Marina Manzo ti.orebil|89oznam.aniram#| and Federica Celoro moc.liamg|orolecaaciredef#| (December 2017), courtesy of Boriana Valcinova, Monumental Cemetery of Milan - Area servizi funebri e cimiteriali
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Bibliography

- Annalisa Boi, Valeria Celsi, "Il tempio crematorio nel Cimitero Monumentale di Milano", Ricerche e progetti per il territorio, la città e l'architettura, December 2015, n.8 (ISSN 2036 1602), pp.100-109

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