Italy is a country with a very long history when it comes to the presence of the Catholic Church. There are many thousands of churches, chapels, and other religious buildings all over the country, some of which are unfortunately left in a state of decay and abandonment. Experts are still debating on why the phenomenon is so widespread throughout Italy, awesome pinpointing at various causes. From a decreased interest in religion to migrations from the countryside to the big cities, these are only some of the many reasons why many church buildings have been seemingly left behind. The Chiesa del Buon Pastore is one of them.
The “Buon Pastore” area is located near the city of Monza, Italy. It wasn’t only home to the church itself but of a rural neighborhood where farmhouses thrived. The community slowly but surely disintegrated over the decades as people shifted to urban living, leaving farming activities behind. The church building still remains one of the most iconic sites in the area. The church dates back to the XVII century, and it is ironically not too far from the historical center of Monza, in spite of it being in total disarray. The local government has deemed the place not safe, and the area is supposed to be off-limits for most visitors. Because of new constructions and newer buildings in the area, it is not always easy to grasp a picture of what the area would have looked like in its prime. Some visitors looking the explore the old church might struggle to find it at first, as the state of decay is so deep that it might be difficult to identify the building and recognize it at first.
The area is also notable for the presence of the abandoned “Villa Uboldi,” once a prosperous home to Milan elites who loved to spend some of their leisure time in this beautiful area (the famous “Parco di Monza” is just a little ways from here.) As you approach, the first thing that you will notice it’s the vegetation, which has overrun the entire place. Weeds grow through the cracks in the walls and make their way through the old bricks. The structure is at risk, so it is surrounded by old scaffolding, which at this point, is not in the greatest shape themselves. Yet, there is still a certain charm to the church, which in spite of the current state of decay, still holds many memories and the spirit of the bygone eras of prosperity in the community. The tall arches and the ceilings still appear majestic in their sheer size, despite all the frescos being washed away by weathering and the inexorability of time. As you walk around and check out the remains of the church and the convent areas, you get a distinct sense that this was once a focal point in the community as a whole. It is a place where many lives intertwined over many years.
Currently, the whole area is owned by a local real estate development company. Residents of the area are trying to fight plans of building new construction sites in favor of protecting the cultural heritage of the former church and its surrounding facilities. Nonetheless, the convent and its surrounding facilities have been abandoned for over 20 years at this point, so many people think that a new real estate development project could be a great way to bring value back to the area, which has sadly become known as a haven for small-time crime in the area, and its often monitored by the authorities.