Tuesday, September 24, 2013


The official name is Archbasilica of the Most Holy Saviour and Sts. John the Baptist and the Evangelist at the Lateran, Cathedral of Rome, Mother and Head of all churches
Built 313/318 by the order of Constantine (306/337) on the site of the CASTRA NOVA EQUITUM SINGULARIUM, the second barracks of the Emperor's Horse Guard to be built
The first, CASTRA PRIORA EQUITUM SINGULARIUM, was in the area where Via Tasso is now
Nearby there was the RESIDENCE OF THE LATERAN FAMILY confiscated by Nero (54/68) and then donated by Fausta, wife of Constantine, to Pope Miltiades (311/314). It became the main papal residence for about 1.000 years. Constantine ordered the construction of the Basilica next to the residence
It was damaged and restored several times
In the fifteenth century the interior was painted by Gentile di Niccolò aka Gentile da Fabriano (about 1370/1427) and Antonio Pisano aka Pisanello (about 1390/about 1455)
Sixtus V Peretti (1585/90) had the benediction loggia added by Domenico Fontana and Clement VIII Aldobrandini (1592/1605) had the transept redecorated
Innocent X Pamphili (1644/55) had the five aisles remodeled in the years 1646/50 and 1656/57 by Francesco Borromini (1599/1667)
Rebuilt in the second half of 1100. Rebuilt again 1732/35 by Alessandro Galilei (1691/1737) for Clement XII Corsini (1730/40). Galilei had won a competition among twenty-three architects, the largest in the history of Roman architecture, which marked with his victory the triumph of the classicist party
On the BALUSTRADE fifteen sculptures: "Christ, Sts. John the Baptist and the Evangelist and twelve Doctors of the Church"
"The impact of Palladian taste has been wrongly detected in Galilei's work filtered by the architect during a previous visit in England (no Palladian building had in fact yet been erected in England at that time). It is the stimulus of the Roman tradition of Maderno and Michelangelo which is at work here: the crowning of the façade, and even more the new pedestal of the statue of Christ, draws directly from baroque models. These components are repeated in a strong composition, perfectly balanced in the alternation of full and empty sections, typical of the late Baroque classicism" (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)
In 1763 the reconstruction of the apse was commissioned to G.B. Piranesi by Pope Clement XIII Rezzonico (1758/69), but the project did not materialize
In 1884/86 Leo XIII Pecci (1878/1903) had the apse rebuilt, the only element of the churh that had remained intact until then
On 28 July 1993, the side entrance and the façade of the palace were severely damaged by a car bomb. Although the static of the façade was damaged, it was possible to repair the damage quickly. This attack was regarded as a warning to the pope who earlier had spoken in Sicily against Mafia
Bronze doors from the Curia in the Forum adapted in about 1660 with a banded contour decorated with symbols from the coats of arms of Alexander VII Chigi (1655/67)
On the left "Statue of Constantine" from the homonymous baths on the Quirinal
Above the statue and the doors there are marble reliefs with "Stories of the life of St. John the Baptist" Filippo Della Valle (1698/1768), Bernardino Ludovisi, G.B. Maini (1690/1752) and Pietro Bracci (1700/73)
On the right there is the entrance to the MUSEO STORICO VATICANO (Vatican Historical Museum)
130 m (427 feet) long
1562/67 maybe by Pirro Ligorio (about 1513/83), decorated by Daniele da Volterra (1509/66). It was begun under Pius IV Medici (1559/65), completed under S. Pius V Ghislieri (1566/72) and restored under Pius VI Braschi (1775/99): the coat of arms of the three Pius popes are massively displayed in the ceiling
"The primitive form of the basilica was to be preserved and so Borromini conceived the aisle as a great hall while preserving the ancient structures. He filled a span encompassing in large pillars every two columns in pairs of the ancient basilica: an order of fluted pilasters articulates the powerful rhythm of the walls. Lowering the height of the coverage of small aisles he gave them a quiet luminosity as opposed to full clarity in the main nave. The vault he had designed would have continued the articulation of color and space of the nave, but the pope preferred to keep the massive sixteenth-century ceiling" (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)
"Borromini developed a strategy, particularly in the placement of the light sources to obtain an effect of perspective depth by the dosage of light in areas situated in succession and finalized the system of the chamber of light, an enclosed space in which the light source is completely hidden and produces a stream of reflected light crucial to get the effects of soft and gradual chiaroscuro reminiscent of Leonardo's sfumato" (Paolo Portoghesi)
Designed by Francesco Borromini (1599/1667), with "Twenty-four ancient columns of mottled green marble from Greece" formerly used as support of the naves and recovered in the reconstruction of the Basilica, in which TWELVE STATUES OF THE APOSTLES were placed in 1718:
"St. Thaddeus" by Lorenzo Ottoni (1648/1736)
"St. Matthew", "St. James the Great", "St. Andrew" and "St. John the Evangelist" Camillo Rusconi (1658/1728)
"In Rusconi it can be identified a kind of simultaneous presence of classic, algardiane and Baroque-Bernini lines that shine in the intense pathos of many of his creations and in the vibrant permeability of the forms to the atmosphere. St. Matthew, set to a specific pattern of diagonal cross, stands energetic but perfectly balanced in the aedicula space. Intense and heroic is the attitude of the apostle, absorbed by his book, in comparison of whom the admittedly refined S. Bartholomew by Legros is more rhetorical in its pathetic excitement. The mass of the statue is powerful, but under the tiered steps of nuanced chiaroscuro, it is shrouded by a veil of atmospheric air that gives it a thoroughly modern lightness" (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)
"St. Philip" by Giuseppe Mazzuoli (1644/1725)
"St. Thomas" and "St. Bartholomew" by Pierre Legros (1666/1719)
"St. Peter" and "St. Paul" by Pierre-Étienne Monnot (1657/1733)
"St. James the Less" by the Genoese Angelo De Rossi (1671/1715)
"St. Simon" by Francesco Maratta, brother of Carlo Maratta
On top of the aediculae HIGH-RELIEFS IN STUCCO:
On the left "Scenes of the Old Testament", on the right "Scenes of the New Testament" 1650 designed by Alessandro Algardi (1598/1654) who sculpted himself four of them ("Resurrection", "Baptism", "Crucifixion" and "Expulsion from Paradise"). The others were sculpted by Ercole Antonio Raggi (1624/86) and Giovanni Francesco Rossi (active 1640/77)
Higher up, in oval frames, PROPHETS:
Painted in about 1718, a gallery of paintings by the best artists active in Rome at the time:
On the right
"Nathum" by Domenico Maria Muratori (1661/1742), "Jonah" by Marco Benefial (1684/1764), "Amos" by Giuseppe Nasini (1657/1736), "Hosea" by Giovanni Odazzi (1663/1731), "Ezekiel" by Giovanni Paolo Melchiorri, "Jeremiah" by Sebastiano Conca (1680/1764)
On the left
"Isaiah" by Benedetto Luti (1666/1724), "Baruch" by Francesco Trevisani (1656/1746), "Daniel" by Andrea Procaccini, "Joel" by Luigi Garzi (1638/1721), "Obadiah" by Giuseppe Chiari (1654/1727), "Micah" by Pier Leone Ghezzi (1674/1755)
1367/69 designed by Giovanni di Stefano (active 1366/91) for Urban V (1362/70) with the money of the French king Charles V (lilies of his arms in the decoration) decorated with twelve panels frescoed maybe by Barna da Siena and retouched by Antonio Aquili aka Antoniazzo Romano (1452/1508) and Fiorenzo di Lorenzo
Giovanni di Stefano was here clearly inspired by Arnolfo di Cambio (about 1245/1302)
Urban V was the first pope to return from Avignon to Rome, where he remained for three years (1367/70)
Above "Reliquaries with heads of St. Peter and St. Paul" made in 1804 as replacement of those by Giovanni di Bartolo stolen in 1799 by the French
Tradition has it that the heads were placed here after the period in which the bodies of the two saints were hidden in the Basilica of St. Sebastian, at the time of the persecution of Valerian (253/260) in 258. When it was possible to transfer the bodies back into their respective basilicas, it was apparently decided to keep the heads in the Papal Basilica
Restored in 1851 with, in the top part inside, the wooden altar of the early popes
In the CONFESSIO "Tomb of Martin V" Colonna (1417/31) 1443 maybe by Simone Ghini on a design by Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi aka Donatello (1386/1466)
"Borromini was given broad scope to demonstrate his skills as a decorator. The various decorative elements and, what is more important, the reorganization of the new aisles during the pontificate of Alexander VII, of the old graves and monuments of the popes, cardinals and bishops show an inexhaustible wealth of ideas and imagination without restrictions. Each of the venerable relics of the past is placed in a kind of treasure chest of its own, wonderfully suited to his character. Typical of the style of Borromini is the blending in these decoration of realistic forms and motifs of flowers and fresh greenery filled with sharp, clear architectural shapes" (Rudolf Wittkower)
220 heads of cherubs in stucco by Borromini have been counted in the church
"In St. John the winged heads of the cherubs play a role in the dialectic of the beveled corners, of the roundings designed to overcome the harshness of the 90 degrees angles. (...) Angels in Bernini are a figurative event introducing into the architectural discourse the 'appearance' of sculpture, whereas in Borromini angels become rhythmic emphasis and access to the supernatural in the abstract system architecture" (Paolo Portoghesi)
On the right "Monument of Cardinal Paul Mellini" 1527 with fragmentary fresco above "Madonna with Child" by Melozzo's school
Rebuilt by Borromini, "Immaculate" 1729 Placido Costanzi (1702/59)
Between first and second chapel
"Monument of Cardinal Giulio Acquaviva" 1574
1830/50 Quintiliano Raimondi (1794/1848)
Altar front made with malachite and lapis lazuli, above the altar relief "Deposition dalla Croce" 1844 by Pietro Tenerani (1789/1869)
"Statue of St. James" 1492 maybe by Andrea Bregno (1418/1503)
1564/70 Giacomo Della Porta (1533/1602)
"Crucifixion" 1575 by Girolamo Siciolante da Sermoneta (1521/80) a student of Perin del Vaga
"Vision of St. John the Evangelist in Patmos" about 1660/65 masterpiece of Lazzaro Baldi (c. 1624/1703)
"In the Vision of St. John in Patmos he implemented the immersion of the figure in an atmospheric space, with a use of the light similar to Pietro da Cortona, (...) he obtained one of the highest results of Pietro da Cortona's school and at the same time he anticipated the plein-air painting typical of much of the eighteenth-century" (Evelina Borea - Biographical Dictionary of Italian Treccani) 
FURTHER ON IN THE NAVE "Tomb of the Milanese Cardinal Casati" 1287 in Cosmatesque style, rebuilt magnificently by Francesco Borromini
FURTHER ON MORE "Tomb of Cardinal Antonio Martino de Chaves" aka Cardinal of Portugal 1447 with sculptures by Isaia da Pisa (active 1447/64), who completed the project by Antonio Averlino aka Filarete (about 1400/about 1469) who had to flee Rome wrongly accused of theft of antiquities
"Tomb of Cardinal Rinuccio Farnese" 1565 by Jacopo Barozzi aka Vignola (1507/73): he was the son of Pierluigi Farnese, a son of the Pope Paul III
"Tomb of Sergius IV (1009/12)" 1012
"Tomb of Alexander III Bandinelli (1159/81)" by Francesco Borromini with the help of Domenico Guidi (1625/1701)
"Borromini who prefers whitewashed plaster, used here polychrome marble in a symbolic way for effects of great elegance" (Paolo Portoghesi)
"Cenotaph of Sylvester II (999/1003)" 1909 with an old inscription. He was a pope interested in esoteric sciences and legend has it that when approaching the death of a pope, the coffin used to sweat and make noises of clashing bones
The legend ended in 1648 when the tomb was opened and the body was found intact but crumbled immediately on contact with air
The present tomb was rebuilt in 1909 by the Hungarian Gzila Nalder
"Boniface VIII Caetani (1294/1303) proclaims the Jubilee Year 1300" fragment of a fresco by Giotto (about 1267/1337)
On the left "Sarcophagus with reclining statue of Cardinal Riccardo Annibaldi" copy of the original by Arnolfo di Cambio now in the cloister
1732/35 by Alessandro Galilei (1691/1737)
"Strictly classical in comparison to other works of the same years, the chapel is still far from true Neo-classicism, especially regarding the sculptural decoration and the subtle symphony of colors of the marbles where the pale purple and green mottled still dominate" (Rudolf Wittkower)
On the altar "St. Andrew Corsini" copy in mosaic from the original by Guido Reni (1575/1642)
On the left "Monument of Clement XII Corsini (1730/40)" urn and porphyry columns recycled from the Pantheon. The urn was located in front of the Pantheon and was known as the Tomb of Agrippa
"Bronze statue of Clement XII" and "Monument to Cardinal Neri Corsini" G.B. Maini (1690/1752)
Allegorical figures by Carlo Monaldi (about 1690/1760)
Statues in niches, "Fortress" by Giuseppe Rusconi (1688/1758), "Justice" by Giuseppe Lironi (1689/1749), "Prudence" by Agostino Cornacchini (1683/1740) and the excellent "Temperance" made in 1742 by Filippo Della Valle (1698/1768)
"Della Valle from Florence developed a language of elegance where, along with the teachings of Rusconi, there are echoes of the clearest classicists from Tuscany and France, which are tinged with a grace of expression typical of the eighteenth-century. His work emblematic is the Temperance: the shape, plastically contained, winds in a harmonious rhythm serpentine with a distant echo of Mannerism. The surfaces are gently exposed to light. The extreme attention to details - the hair, the finely chiseled amphora - stresses the precious elegance of his work" (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)
On the right memorial plaque remembering papal soldiers who died fighting against the patriotic soldiers of Garibaldi in 1860
Rebuilt by Borromini
"Face of the Virgin" fragment of painted wood of the fifteenth century included in "Assumption of the Sts. Dominic and Philip Neri" by Giovanni Odazzi (1663/1731)
To the right marble group "Pietà" about 1732 by Antonio Montauti (1685/1740) formerly in the crypt of the Corsini Chapel
"Tomb of Cardinal Bernardino Caracciolo" 1255
1600/10 Onorio Longhi (1568/1619)
On the altar "Crucifix" maybe by Stefano Maderno (1560/1636)
On the left "Monument of Cardinal Giulio Antonio Santorio" about 1631 with bust sculpted by the great Giuliano Finelli (1602/53)
"Here Finelli expanded the idea of the baroque figure kneeling to the altar began by Algardi with the Mellini Tomb in St. Maria del Popolo: Cardinal Santorio seems really kneeling behind a kneeler, his hands resting on the pillow. The Algardian realism in dealing with the surface strengthens the illusion of real life and this is accompanied by a very audacious move of the figure toward the altar and a more intense expression of devotion" (Rudolf Wittkower)
1675 Giovanni Antonio De Rossi (1616/95)
Canvas of "St. Francis" by Biagio Puccini (1673/1721)
The chapel is beautifully decorated in stucco with "Angels and cherubs" about 1685 Filippo Carcani (active 1670/91)
"Absorbed in the style of the last part of Bernini's life, Filippo Carcani was attracted by Ercole Antonio Raggi of whom resumed the iper-sensitive style, but with this difference: in Raggi's style, as in Bernini's last style, the body structure was still important; you can always perceive the classical model even if the body is hidden by a mass of drapery. Carcani, however, was no longer interested in the classical structure. In his stucco bodies are very long and fragile, as if they had no bones, while the drapery folds parallel to the masses cover them. The stuccos in the Lancellotti chapel can be defined as strange protorococò with a fascination already belonging to the eighteenth century" (Rudolf Wittkower)
On the last pillar "Monument of Cardinal Girolamo Casanate (founder of the Casanatense Library at St. Ignatius) 1707 Pierre Legros (1666/1719)
5th CHAPEL ON THE LEFT rebuilt by Borromini
"Tomb of Elena Savelli" 1570 by Michelangelo's followers Jacopo Del Duca (about 1520/1604), prototype of many seventeenth-century tombs with a portrait bust
Completely renovated in 1597/1601 for the Jubilee of 1600 at the behest of Pope Clement VIII Aldobrandini (1592/1605) with the architecture of Giacomo Della Porta (1533/1602) and the frescoes by Giuseppe Cesari aka Cavalier d'Arpino (1568/1640) who coordinated the Roman Mannerists in "Saints" at the top and "Stories of St. Sylvester and Constantine" at the bottom:
On the right wall:
"St. Barnabas" by G.B. Ricci (about 1550/1624)
"St. Bartholomew" and "St. Sylvester receives the envoys of Constantine" by Paris Nogari (about 1536/1601)
"St. Simon" and "Baptism of Constantine" by Cristoforo Roncalli aka Pomarancio (1552/1626)
On the left wall:
"St. Thomas" by Cesare Nebbia (1536/1614)
"St. Philip" by Giovanni Baglione (1566/1643)
"St. Thaddeus" by Orazio Gentileschi (1563/1639)
"Foundation of the Basilica" by Paris Nogari
"Consecration of the Basilica" by G.B. Ricci
On the right wall:
"St. James" by Paris Nogari
"St. Paul and two Saint doctors" by Cesare Nebbia
"Appearance of the Holy Face" and "Constantine donates furniture to the Basilica" by Giovanni Baglione
On the left wall:
"St. Andrew" by G.B. Ricci
"St. Peter" and "Triumph of Constantine" by Bernardino Cesari (1571/1622) brother of Cavalier d'Arpino,
"Two Saint doctors" and "Dream of Constantine" by Cesare Nebbia
On the right ORGAN
1598 Luca Biagi (1548/1608) with decorations by G.B. Montano (1543/1621). It is also known as Organo Biagi from the name of the specialist who designed it
Columns of yellow marble from Tunisia and "Two Angels" by Giovanni Antonio Parracca aka Valsoldo (?/1642-46)
It is the largest and oldest organ of Rome and one of the largest in the world, originally had 1,000 barrels and 700 more were added in 1731 after a restoration work. In 1707 it was played by Georg Friedrich Handel
A wrong restoration in 1934 made it unusable until 1984 when it was finally restored to its powerful sound
"Tomb of Pope Innocent III of the Counts of Segni (1198/1216)" 1861 by Giuseppe Lucchetti (1823/1907)
He was the pope who summoned the Fourth Lateran Council, and he finally declared the superiority of the church over any other secular power with the birth of the Papal State in the year 1200. He acknowledged St. Francis but, ironically, he also established the Inquisition Tribunal and declared the Fourth and the Fifth Crusade
About 1600 Pietro Paolo Olivieri (1551/99)
Above the pediment in a reliquary there is a fragment of the last supper table that is exposed on the day of Easter
At the sides statues "Elijah", "Moses", "Melchizedek" and "Aaron" about 1599 by Camillo Mariani (1567/1611), Gillis de la Rivière (?/1602), Nicolò Pippi (?/1601-1604) and Giacomo Longhi Silla (active since 1568/d. 1619)
Above fresco with "Transfiguration" by Giuseppe Cesari aka Cavalier d'Arpino
The four columns of gilt bronze were obtained, according to legend, with the fusion of the bronze beaks of the ships of Cleopatra defeated at Actium in 31 BC. They had been placed by Augustus in the Temple of Jupiter
"Tomb of Leo XIII Pecci (1878/1903)" 1907 by Giulio Tadolini (1849/1918)
1625 Girolamo Rainaldi (1570/1655) for the Colonna family
"Portrait of Martin V Colonna (1417/31)"
"Monument to Lucrezia Tomacelli" 1625 by Teodoro Della Porta (1567/1638) son of Guglielmo Della Porta and Giacomo Laurenziano (active since 1607/d. 1650)
1884/86 rebuilt by Francesco Vespignani (1842/99) to a design by his father Virginio Vespignani (1808/82) for Leo XIII
Mosaic "Christ with angels and, on the right, Sts. John, Andrew, Paul and Anthony (small), on the left Virgin Mary, St. Peter and St. Francis (small) with Nicholas IV offering the church" 1291 by Jacopo Torriti (active 1270/1300) for Nicholas IV (1288/92)
He was in charge of the pictorial program of the imposing Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi to which Torriti himself worked. The mosaic was transported from the old apse and restored
N THE WALLS OF THE PRESBYTERY frescoes: on the right "Stories of Innocent III of the Counts of Segni (1198/1216)" and on the left "Virginio Vespignani submit the draft to Pope Leo XIII" Francesco Grandi (1831/91) a pupil of Tommaso Minardi
Liturgical furnishings including various reliquaries with relics: St. Catherine, St. Mary of Egypt, and cilice of Mary Magdalene
Crosses: Stational thirteenth or fourteenth century, Processional 1441 by Nicola da Guardiagrele (1385/about 1462) from the Abruzzi region
In the corridor Tombs of Andrea Sacchi (1599/1661) and Giuseppe Cesari aka Cavalier d'Arpino
Vault decorated with frescoes by the brothers Giovanni Alberti (1558/1601) and Cherubino Alberti (1553/1615)
Wood panel painting "Annunciation" by Marcello Venusti (about 1512/79) after a drawing by Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475/1564)
EXTERNAL PORCH ON THE RIGHT (Loggia of the Blessings)
Domenico Fontana (1543/1607) for Sixtus V
Bronze statue of "Henry IV of France (1503/1610)" 1608 by Nicolas Cordier (1567/1612)
Henry IV was a Huguenot, and before he became king of France he was involved in the wars of religion. Before his coronation as King of France in 1589, he abjured the Calvinist faith to embrace Catholicism. In 1598 he ended the civil war by issuing the Edict of Nantes which guaranteed religious freedom to Protestants
Frescoes in the vault "Angeli e Santi" by Cesare Nebbia (1536/1614), Ventura Salimbeni (1568/1613) and others
TWO TWIN BELL TOWERS of the thirtheenth century, cusps added in 1370
1215/32 cosmatesque masterpiece by Vassalletto father and son. In the center "Circular well" of the ninth century
Along the walls, architectural elements, sculptures and ornaments from the ancient basilica as well as Roman and early Christian material excavated in the Basilica:
"St. John the Baptist" and "St. John the Evangelist" 1492 by Luigi Capponi (active end of 1400s/beginning of 1500s) from the dismembered De Pereriis altar
"Bronze doors" 1196 by Pietro and Uberto da Piacenza, formerly doors for the Holy Stairs and now, oddly enough, the door of a room with a vending machine
"Recumbent statue of Riccardo Annibaldi" and fragments including the relief of "Funeral procession of clerics" from the 1276 tomb, certainly one of the earliest works attributed to Arnolfo di Cambio (about 1245/1302)
Tapestry of the sixteenth century
"Ciborium" 1297 Deodato Cosma
"Monument to Workers" 1904 by the deaf and dumb sculptor Annibale Monti (1875/1941) for Leo XIII with base by Luigi Rosa
"Annibale Monti, who had always maintained regular contacts with representatives of the Lombard artistic culture of those years, worked several times inspired by social issues, both in the representation of figures of workmen, and in the more symbolic representatin of the work tools, in support of portraits or devotional images. However, a fundamental result in this sense, was the victory achieved by the artist in the competition held by the Company of Workers of St. Joachim in Rome in 1904 to externalize through a sculpture the principles of the Encyclical 'Rerum Novarum' that Pope Leo XIII had wanted to write about labor issues. The work (...) represents a worker who holds a cross and the working tool combining in this way the religious and the social instance" (website storiadeisordi.it)

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