The first building of the ancient church of San Giorgio in Annone is attributed around the end of the 11th century. It is the period of diffusion of the cult and devotion to the Saint by the Benedictines who used the religious building probably as a small Oratory.
Lying on a hill it is a national monument. Recently restored, it is another jewel after San Pietro al Monte di Civate. This rises on the suggestive little hill, which overlooks the town, surrounded by fertile land. This was indeed the monastic custom of the time: to settle in a place that invites meditation and prayer and at the same time to be able to alternate the contemplative life with the work of the fields. A second reconstruction of the church of San Giorgio occurred at the end of the fifteenth century. It was built in a single nave with a quadrangular apse facing east and the entrance façade to the west. The addition of the sixteenth-century side chapels and the eighteenth-century ossuary definitively transformed the pre-existing oratory into the current church.
The oldest part of this original architectural complex is the bell tower. It stands on the left side adjacent to the apse. It has a base built in molera stone. In the upper part, divided into squares crowned by hanging arches, there are small single-lancet windows and narrow slits. These characters highlight its origin dating back to the end of the 11th century. The presence of a frescoed cycle in the main chapel, attributed to the Master of the Pala Sforzesca, towards the end of the 1500s, make it a masterpiece. Here is a precious unicum in the large wooden polyptych with scenes of passion, doors painted with the resurrection and Saints Saint George and Andrew.
The external façade of the church of San Giorgio in Annone includes a characteristic eighteenth-century door and the large overhanging rose window, in strongly splayed terracotta, which allows the light to penetrate inside. On the left and external side of the church, at a lower level, stands a singular votive chapel with a polygonal portico with two arches supported by a serizzo column. Built between 1730 and 1756 it served as an ossuary. Inside, in fact, authentic skulls recovered during the ancient excavations were kept in a row on the altar.
At the sides, in the first half of the 1500s, two large rectangular chapels were built. The one on the left is wanted by the Careni family, once known as S. Ambrogio, with the subsequent subdivision into two smaller rooms, of S. Giorgio and S. Rocco. The one on the right is by S. Giovanni Battista, with a polygonal apse with an upper cross-shaped opening, by brothers Giovanni Andrea and Giovanni Angelo Annoni who decorated it with a beautiful polyptych. Finally, in support of the walls of the aforementioned chapel and the fifteenth-century nave, the sacristy will be built in the eighteenth century.
The Ancona of the Passion
The Ancona of the Passion is a large polyptych in carved and painted wood. It was built around the middle of the 16th century and commissioned by the noble Giovanni Andrea Annoni for the family chapel. In it, paintings and narrative sculptures alternate with the dramatic story of the Passion. Its structure is given by two distinct and overlapping elements, the predella and the actual altarpiece. On the first are depicted the episodes of the Kiss of Judas and the Capture of Jesus, the Last Supper and Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane separated by finely carved and gilded pillars.
In the second we find, instead, a double order of sculpted scenes with remarkable relief and surprising richness of details. The two doors of the ancon, closable as a wardrobe, represent in the inner part the Resurrection of Christ on the left and the Last Judgment on the right. Outside you can see respectively S. Giorgio with the dragon and S. Andrea with the client.
In recent years, at the Diocesan Museum of Milan, the work has undergone a delicate restoration operation. The restoration has found in several places the mark of Antwerp, depicting two black hands, attesting to its provenance from a shop in that city.www.gliamicidisangiorgio.it