Santa Maria delle Grazie ("Holy Mary of Grace") is a church best known for a painting in its adjoining convent's rectory. It's the amazing mural, The Last Supper, painted by the incomparable Leonardo da Vinci. The Last Supper is arguably the best-known painting in the world and the church and convent are recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Most people who visit go only to see the da Vinci painting, but the adjoining church is also worth seeing.
In 1460 the Dominicans in Milan received a piece of land containing a small chapel dedicated to "Holy Mary of Grace". They decided to build a new church and convent at the site, and construction was begun in 1463. In 1493, the new Duke of Milan (Ludovico Sforza) decided to rebuild the cloister and apse of the church. He commissioned Da Vinci to paint the Last Supper, which he did between 1495 and 1497.
The church was undergoing restoration when we visited, both to its exterior and interior. Like most churches in the region, it's made of terracotta bricks, stucco, granite and marble. It's an attractive building with a lofty dome being its most dominant feature. In fact, a photo of the dome (below) was used in last weekend's One Clue Mystery photo. It was recognized by our incomparable travel detective, George G -- congratulations for a job well done, George!
Exploration of the church shows some lovely side-chapels and interesting art, including remnants of the original 15th century frescoes.
I found a tribute to Giuseppe Girotti within the cathedral. I have never heard of him before, and he was an admirable man. He was a professor of theological studies who during WWII worked to protect Jews from the Nazis. He was arrested in 1944 and died in Auschwitz in 1945. He underwent beatification in 2014.
The church received severe bomb damage in August 1943; fortunately, the da Vinci painting was spared damage. The painting and the church have been beautifully restored in the past few decades.