San Babila was once considered the third most important in the city after the Duomo and the Basilica di Sant'Ambrogio. It is dedicated to saint Babylas of Antioch.
At the beginning of the 5th century, Marolus, the bishop of Milan, brought from Antioch to Milan relics of saints Babylas of Antioch and Romanus of Caesarea. Marolus founded the Basilica Concilia Sanctorum or church of San Romano, which stood until the 19th century, a few meters south of the church of San Babila, on the site of a Roman temple dedicated to the Sun.
The church of San Babila was built on the same site in about 1095. In the 16th century, the church was extended with an additional construction at the front and a new baroque façade. The church still retains its original medieval fabric, although much was lost due to baroque and modern renovations.
The whole complex was renovated in the 19th century with the intent of restoring the appearance of the medieval basilica, and in the early 20th century the Neo-Romanesque façade by Paolo Cesa-Bianchi was built. The bell tower is from 1920, and replaced the original tower which fell down in the 16th century.
The interior has a nave and two aisles. There are two side chapels that date from the late Renaissance. The right aisle has an image of the Madonna which is highly venerated by the Milanese population.References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).