Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Real name S. GIOVANNI DELLA FONTE (St. John of the water spring)
Built about 313/318 for Constantine (306/337) over a villa of the first century AD and a thermal bath of the second century AD, which was used to warm up the water for the baptismal immersions
Modified extensively for Sixtus III (432/440)
Last renovations:
1540 when the dome was replaced by a lantern
1629/35 by Domenico Castelli (1582/1657)
1657 with the external frieze of Francesco Borromini (1599/1667)
It was the principal Baptistery in Rome and it has always been used for baptisms from antiquity to now seamlessly
ENTRANCE opened by Pope Gregory XIII Boncompagni (1572/85) for the Jubilee of 1575
"Green basalt tank" with a lid decorated with bronze friezes "Baptism of Jesus" and "Baptism of Constantine" by Ciro Ferri (1634/89)
The Liber pontificalis says that there was a large basin of porphyry covered in silver with the golden statue of the lamb of God in the middle. Water was poured into the tank from a phial of gold and from seven deers of silver while on the edges there were the statues, of Jesus and St. John the Baptist also made of silver
"Eight columns of porphyry" dating back to Constantine's times placed here about 100 years later, at the time of Sixtus III (423/440)
"Apparition of the Angel to Zacharias", "Visit of Mary to St. Elizabeth", "Birth", "Circumcision", "The Baptist in the Desert", "Preaching", "Baptism of Jesus" and "Beheading" modern copies of the originals 1639/45 by Andrea Sacchi (1599/1661) now in the Lateran Palace
"He wanted to strip his style of any frill. Studying Raphael, he attained a degree of simplicity which is exactly the classic Italian counterpart to the development of Nicolas Poussin in those years" (Rudolf Wittkower)
"Stories of Constantine" by pupils of Andrea Sacchi:
"Apparition of the Cross" by Giacinto Gimignani (1606/81)
"Enthronement of the Cross and destruction of idols" early work by Carlo Maratta (1625/1713)
Door with ancient bronze panels, originally placed at the top of the Holy Stairs
"Statue of St. John the Baptist" Luigi Valadier (1726/85)
Corresponding to the narthex of Sixtus III (432/440)
Transformed in 1154 by Anastasius IV (1153/54)
In the little apse on the left mosaic of the fifth century with "Phytomorphic motifs with crosses"
In the little apse on the right "Madonna" maybe by G.B. Salvi aka Sassoferrato (1609/85)
High above the entrance to the baptistery marble bas-relief "Crucifixion" maybe by Andrea Bregno (1418/1503)
The "Bases of the two columns" come from the Temple of Venus Genetrix in the Forum of Caesar
640 by Pope John IV (640/642) built to bury the remains of some saints (Venantius, Anastasius, Mauro and others) from Dalmatia whence he himself came
In the apse and in the arch mosaics from about 650, restored 1826/28:
Above "Saviour between two angels"
Below "Virgin"
On the right "St. Peter, John the Baptist, Bishop Donnione and John IV"
On the left "Sts. Paul, John the Evangelist, Venantius and Pope Theodore I (642/649)"
MAIN ALTAR by Carlo Rainaldi (1611/91)
On the sides "Cenotaphs of Cardinal Adriano Ceva and of his nephew Cardinal Francesco Adriano Ceva" by Giuliano Finelli (1602/53)
On the left "Plate of Cardinal Ceva" 1650 by Francesco Borromini
"Bronze doors" 1196 that sound like an organ when they are opened or closed
In the vault mosaic about 450 "Agnus Dei, birds and vases"
"Statue of St. John the Evangelist" maybe by Taddeo Landini (about 1550/96)
On the left "Funeral relief" by Luigi Capponi (active end of 1400s/beginning of 1500s)
Frescoes 1597/1601 by Antonio Tempesta (about 1555/1630) and Agostino Ciampelli (1565/1630)
Stuccos by Ambrogio Buonvicino (about 1552/1622)

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