The people working on excavations in Milan have found a secret under the giant gothic Duomo di Milano: it’s built on top of an ancient temple dedicated to Minerva.
The location shouldn’t come as a surprise, since the Cathedral (begun in the 14th century and finished 600 years later) was constructed at the most prominent spot in Mediolanum, which was once the capital of the western empire and is now modern Milan. St. Ambrose had a basilica constructed on the same site in the 5th century.
The temple would have occupied a central place in the square, and would have been a preferred spot for a Christian church, in part because of its location, and in part because pagan temples often were converted to Christian use.
The details so far are maddeningly vague, since they came as part of a general report on the progress of Milan excavations, which are in dire financial straits due to the economy.
If more details or photos emerge, I’ll do a follow-up.