St. George (Carelli Spire)

S. Giorgio – Guglia Carelli
The statue of San Georgio is placed on the north side apse spire, which is considered the first spire to be installed at the Duomo. The statue portrays San Giorgio, saint, martyr and knight, who has always been widely venerated by Christians. His figure is wrapped in mystery, and many scholars have sought to establish his actual identity over the centuries. San Giorgio is universally acknowledged as martyr and knight born in Cappadocia, who lived during the rule of Diocletian. In western iconography he is especially portrayed holding a sword, about to pierce a dragon. The Leggenda Aura by Jacopo da Varagine relates that he defeated the dragon who infested Selem, the Libyan city, saving the king’s daughter from the extreme sacrifice. Acknowledging the miracle, the king and the population converted to Christianity. The statue in question is commonly called “Carelli Spire” in memory of Marco Carelli, famous Milanese merchant and a leading benefactor of the Cathedral. Since he had no children, he appointed Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo his universal heir in 1390, the Jubilee year, donating a sum of 35,000 golden ducats.The statue at the Duomo is a copy made in the 1950s to preserve the original San Giorgio, which dates back to 1403, made by Giorgio Solari and currently displayed at Museo del Duomo. The city of Milan and the Duomo were seriously affected by the aerial bombings of 1943. When it fell, the original San Giorgio lost both legs and the sword he held in the right hand, while part of the head was sliced away. In 1954 the work underwent extensive restoration in view of the exhibition at the Museum. The head was welded and parts that had been entirely destroyed were reconstructed.