It appears that the construction of the Cathedral on the area of the ancient parish took place gradually. The church, built according to the project of Giulio Todeschini and dedicated to Santa Maria Maddalena, was consecrated by the bishop of Verona in 1611.
As happened with many buildings, built over a long period of years, the construction of the work was not entirely completed according to what was foreseen by the project. It was certainly conditioned by problems of a practical nature, most likely by the sudden reduction of financial possibilities due to an economic crisis.
Todeschini's classic style is linked to that of Sanmicheli and Scamozzi. The facade already shows Baroque elements, recalling famous works such as Vignola's Church of the Gesù in Rome.
The interior, with a basilica plan with three naves, notable for its simple classical solemnity, is one of the finest examples of the late Renaissance in the province of Brescia.
The sixteen white Doric columns are in Botticino marble. The central nave is covered by a simple barrel vault which, with its circularity, repeats the motif of the arches.
In the left aisle there is the chapel where the SS. Sacrament.
The church is dedicated to Santa Maria Maddalena, a title that dates back to ancient times, at the origin of the parish.
In the Cathedral there is a pictorial cycle dedicated to Mary Magdalene. The author is Andrea Celesti (1637-1714?), One of the main representatives of seventeenth-century Venetian painting.
In the presbytery of the Cathedral, behind the altar, in the center, is "The penitent Magdalene consoled by the Angels in a moment of ecstasy".
On the left is "The Resurrection of Lazarus" believed to be the brother of Mary Magdalene. The composition is remarkable for its structure: at the bottom there is the semicircular sequence of people among which Martha, Jesus, the Magdalene and Lazarus stand out.
On the right is "The supper in the house of Simon the Pharisee" during which Mary Magdalene washes Jesus' feet and dries them with her hair. The scenographic taste and that of the description of a banquet predominate. The influence of a large canvas by Paolo Veronese ("The banquet in the house of Levi", 1573, now at the Venice Academy) is evident.
Above the windows of the
The Celesti cycle dedicated to Santa Maria Maddalena concludes with the triumphal "Resurrection of Christ" in the counter-façade of the Cathedral.
Paintings by Celesti are also found on the connecting surfaces between one arch and the other of the two colonnades of the central nave.
Other notable works can be admired in the Cathedral of Desenzano. In the chapel of the SS. Sacramento shines "The Last Supper" by Gian Battista Tiepolo. The canvas was painted around 1738.
This painting by Tiepolo in the Cathedral of Desenzano is a work of great interest, since it is iconographically atypical, as the twelve apostles are cultured, unlike what usually happens in the traditional scheme, according to a longitudinal perspective line that seems to crowd the guests in a close intimacy while the drama occurs.
Other works are in the sacristy. The eye immediately goes to the "Deposition" and to the series of small canvases illustrating "The mysteries of the Rosary".
Inside the Cathedral there are other works by painters, including Giovanni Andrea Bertanza di Padenghe, Donato Zenone, Domenico Cignaroli, while in the left aisle there is the chapel dedicated to Sant'Angela Merici and built in 1874.