figure of the pope was sculpted with extreme realism by Giannino
Castiglioni (1884-1971). The pope is lying in state, his head rests
on two cushions and is slightly turned toward the viewer. All the
papal vestments are faithfully reproduced, including the striking
perforated lace. His feet are covered with a thin veil called falda.
The ample arcosolium
(arched recess for a sarcophagus) is entirely decorated in
Ravenna-style mosaic, made by the Studio della Fabbrica di San Pietro
following the design by the painter Pietro d'Achiardi. In the upper
lunettes on a golden background, are: in the center Christ Pantocrator,
inside a clipeum (a medallion portrait) held by two angels.
The inscription above says: REX REGVM, PRINCEPS PACIS (The King
of kings, the Prince of peace).
To the left
is St Ambrose, the Patron of Milan, to the right is St Theresa of
the Child Jesus, who was canonized by the pope. On the vault, on
a blue background are coils of foliage and, inside a circle in the
center, are the letters Alfa and Omega. On the bases of the arch
are the symbols of Milan, to the left, and Desio, to the right.
On the outer edge of the low vault are the programmatic words of
the pontificate of Pius XI: PAX CHRISTI IN REGNO CHRISTI (The peace
of Christ in the kingdom of Christ).