Monday, June 29, 2015



1476 for Pope Sixtus IV Della Rovere (1471/84)

According to tradition, Sixtus IV found refuge from a raging storm in a shrine with an image of the Virgin Mary

Once the danger was over he ordered that a church would be dedicated to that image with the title of Buon Aiuto (Good Help)

Fresco detached from the original shrine “Madonna with Child” maybe by Antonio Aquili aka Antoniazzo Romano (about 1435-40/1508)

Saturday, June 27, 2015



Maybe a martyrium (building associated with the martyrdom of a saint) of the fifth century where St. John the Evangelist would have been plunged into boiling oil in the year 95 AD

According to tradition, he resisted for so long that was believed to be a powerful wizard. He was then released and exiled to Patmos where he wrote the Book of Revelation of the Bible

Renewed 1509 by Baldassare Peruzzi (1481/1536) or Antonio Cordini aka Antonio da Sangallo the Younger (1483/1546) for Julius II Della Rovere (1503/13)

Restored 1658 by Francesco Borromini (1599/1667) for Cardinal Francesco Paolucci

The beautiful gable end with palm leaves, lilies and roses globe (the coat of arms of the patron) and cross is a copy in cement of the original in stucco now preserved in the nearby church of S. Giovanni a Porta Latina


Restored in 1716

Stucco and paintings “Stories of St. John the Evangelist” about 1658/60 by Lazzaro Baldi (about 1624/1703)

“Here Lazzaro Baldi wanted to recover the, by then ancient, classicism of Domenichino as he was depicting an easy, basic story. Nevertheless in the Vision of St. John in Patmos he already implemented the immersion of the figure in an atmospheric space, with a use of the light similar to Pietro da Cortona, something in which he would have succeeded much better between 1660 and 1665 in his masterpiece, the painting of the same subject in St. John Lateran, where 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 – Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani Treccani)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015




It is the house where St. Catherine of Siena died on April 29, 1380, only 33 years old

The companions of St. Catherine, after her death, founded in the house the first community of the Sisters of Penance of St. Dominic

In 1480, for the centenary of her death, Antonio Aquili aka Antoniazzo Romano (about 1435-40/1508) and the assistants in his workshop frescoed the chapel with “St. Catherine of Siena with Saints”

The frescoes were removed in 1637 and divided between the Chamber of St. Catherine at the Minerva and the Convent of St. Catherine of Siena at Magnanapoli

“Today we can only imagine what the room would have looked like in the fifteenth century (...): scenes and isolated figures of saints arranged with bright blue skies in the background within frames that gave the illusion of opening to the outside, according to the criteria of the painting fashion of the late fifteenth century. (...) The choice of holy men and women of the cycle is explained in the biography itself of Catherine. The saint from Siena in fact lived a life both for charity and for militant political action shared with other saints in the cycle such as Bridget of Sweden and Catherine of Alexandria, kept today at Magnanapoli. In the choice for the other saints the dominant theme is the aspiration to a pattern of life of penance and eremitic asceticism and it is clear therefore the thin thread that ties the cycle: not only celebratory - Catherine saint among saints - but also an allusion to an active commitment in the Church and to a life of poverty” (Anna Cavallaro)

In 1573 the nuns moved into their new convent in S. Catherine at Magnanapoli

St. Catherine of Siena is the patron saint of Italy and Europe and is the only saint with St. Francis of Assisi and St. Pio of Pietrelcina to whom the Catholic Church has officially recognized the authenticity of the stigmata

She was buried in the nearby church of S. Maria sopra Minerva, but her head was severed in 1381 at the behest of Pope Urban VI (1378/89) and taken to the Basilica of St. Dominic in Siena where it is also kept a hand thumb with which the saint's blessing to Italy and Europe is given each year on her feast day

A foot of St. Catherine is preserved in the Church of Sts. John and Paul in Venice while a rib and a scapula are in the Shrine of St. Catherine in Astenet in Belgium

In 1579 the ORATORY was enlarged by Francesco Capriani aka Francesco da Volterra (1535/94) for the College of the Neophytes

It was renovated in the years 1638/39 for the Confraternity of the Annunciation, whose activity was to adopt poor girls

The wooden CEILING is the original one of the fourteenth century

On the WALLS seventeenth-century paintings with “Stories from the life of St. Catherine”

First painting on the left “Return to Rome of Gregory XI” 1980 Arcangelo Longo


“St. Catherine” a late work by Giuseppe Cesari aka Cavalier d'Arpino (1568/1640)

Beneath the altar relics of St. John the Martyr

In the two side arches sarcophagi made out of jasper with the relics of Sts. Euraclio and Esuperanzia

The building is part of the 1874 TEATRO ROSSINI (Rossini Theatre) by Virginio Vespignani (1808/82)

Saturday, June 20, 2015



Built on the ruins of an ancient medieval tower in memory of the rest stop in this place on April 11, 1462 of Pius II Piccolomini (1458/64)

The Pope had left Rome to meet Cardinal Bessarion who was carrying the head of St. Andrew from Ancona to Rome

The relic had been saved by the tyrant of Patras in Greece who had fled to avoid the Turks and it was kept in the Basilica of St. Peter as one of the four most important relics of the church

The head of S. Andrea was eventually donated in 1966 by Paul VI Montini (1963/78) to the city of Patras, where the saint had died

The oratory was granted in 1566 to S. Filippo Neri (known as St. Philip Neri in English) and to the Confraternita della SS. Trinità dei Pellegrini (Brotherhood of Holy Trinity of the Pilgrims) which still officiate in it

It was restored in 1805 by Giuseppe Valadier (1762/1839)


Painting “St. Andrew” dating back to the sixteenth century

In the small garden behind the church there is a CEMETERY abandoned for the pilgrims who died in Rome

At the center AEDICULA shaped like a small temple with “Statue of St. Andrew” by Paolo Taccone aka Paul Romano (ABOUT 1415/77)

The aedicula was rebuilt in 1869 after being hit by lightning

Friday, June 19, 2015



Beginning of 1600 for the Arciconfraternita del SS. Sacramento (Confraternity of the Holy Sacrament) founded in 1501 by four faithful men and a priest at S. Lorenzo in Damaso to spread the cult of the Sacrament and to accompany the Viaticum that was brought to the dying

It was restored and renovated in 1863 by Luigi Tedeschi who also reversed the orientation of the building

Now it is home to the Scout Group Opera Regina Apostolorum

Wednesday, June 17, 2015



1576, rebuilt in about 1724/30 for Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni under Benedict XIII Orsini (1724/30) by the master of the so-called Roman Barocchetto (Roman Little Baroque) Domenico Gregorini (1692/1777) who was also responsible for the reconstruction of the original façade by Carlo Rainaldi (1611/91)

It is allso known as ORATORY OF S. MARIA IN VIA

Statues in the FAÇADE “Faith” and “Hope” by Paolo Benaglia (?/1739)

The INTERIOR decoration dates back to 1875



“Angels and Evangelists” 1856/57 by Luigi Martinori (1828/95)


1842 by Luigi Valadier (1726/85) with relics of Sts. Cyriac, Ilaria and Lea as well as shreds of the Virgin Mary's veil and of St. Joseph's robe

Above the altar “Holy Family” 1729 by Francesco Trevisani (1656/1746) from the Istria peninsula

On either side, “David” and “Aaron” 1854/55 by Pietro Gagliardi (1809/90)

The oratory was given to tour operators as their worship place in Rome since 1969

Monday, June 15, 2015



1562/69 Giacomo Della Porta (1533/1602) and Giovanni Lippi aka Nanni di Baccio Bigio (about 1513/68) under the patronage of Tommaso Cavalieri (the great love of Michelangelo) for the Confraternita del SS. Crocifisso (Confraternity of the Most Holy Crucifix)

The Confraternity was protected by Cardinal Ranuccio Farnese (after his death in 1565 his brother Cardinal Alessandro Farnese succeeded as protector) and had duties of devotion for the fifteenth century wooden Crucifix kept in the church of S. Marcello al Corso

The Crucifix was believed to be miraculous since it escaped in 1519 the fire that destroyed the church of S. Marcello al Corso and after that the plague ceased in 1522 due to its presence in a procession

Since then, a procession used to move on the evening of every Holy Thursday from here to St. Peter's Basilica

CEILING 1879 with painting in the center “Triumph of the Cross” by Giovanni Gagliardi (1838/1924) grandson of Pietro Gagliardi

The original ceiling of 1584 by Flaminio Boulanger was destroyed in 1798

Decorative scheme on the walls made from 1578 to about 1584 and designed by Tommaso Cavalieri (1509/87) and Girolamo Muziano (1532/92) with a theme derived from the medieval text of the thirteenth century by the Dominican friar Jacopo da Voragine (or Varazze) “Legend of the True Cross”, a real tour de force of unlikely fantasies

According to the story, the wood of the Cross of Christ was already predestined by the time that Adam's son Seth had put into his mouth, on his deathbed, three seeds that would eventually spawn a large tree

After many centuries, the tree was cut by Solomon to build the Temple in Jerusalem but the wood did not seem compatible with the Temple and it was used for a footbridge over a river. When the Queen of Sheba passed over the bridge had the premonition that the Savior of mankind would have been crucified in the wood and knelt in adoration

The story continues with the battle of Milvian Bridge between Constantine and Maxentius, and the journey of St. Helena, mother of Constantine, in search of the True Cross

St. Helena found a person who knew where it was buried, and to force him to talk, she had him lowered into a pit without bread and water for seven days

She so convinced the reluctant person to talk and she was able to find the three different crosses used on the day of Christ's death. To identify the one on which he died, St. Helena touched with the wood a dead man and he miraculously resurrected

Another chapter is the duel between Heraclius, Byzantine emperor, and Chosroes II, the Persian king

After Heraclius defeated the army of Chosroes in the battle of the Danube in 615 AD, he invited him to be converted and baptized. Chosroes refused and Heraclius drew his sword and cut off his head
Thus Heraclius obtained the restitution of the Cross that was returned to Jerusalem

Compared to the previously built Oratories of S. Giovanni Decollato and of the Gonfalon, the story loses its epic and dramatic dimension and gets a more serene and discursive tone, of wider popular appeal, certainly more consonant with the dictates of the recently completed Council of Trent (1545/63)


Beautiful 1744 organ by the Tyrolean master Giovanni Corrado Verlè

Frescoes with “Stories of the brotherhood”:

On the right

“The Crucifix remains intact in the fire of S. Marcello” and “Foundation of the convent of the Capuchin on Quirinal Hill” by Niccolò Circignani aka Pomarancio (about 1520/98) who succeeded in 1582 to Giovanni De Vecchi (about 1537/1615)

On the left

“Procession of the Black Plague of 1522” by Paris Nogari (about 1536/1601)

“Approval of the statutes of the brotherhood” by Baldassare Croce (about 1553/1628)


Story of the Legend of the True Cross beginning from the right of the altar in clockwise direction:

On the right

“St. Helena tear down the idols” and “Invention of the Cross” about 1579 by Giovanni De Vecchi who also painted the “Sibyl”, the two “Prophets” and the two higher “Stories with angels” and to whom it was initially entrusted the job of completing the whole cycle

“Miracle of the True Cross” 1589 by Niccolò Circignani aka Pomarancio who also did the two “Prophets” and the “Story” above

On the left

“Duel between Heraclius and Chosroes”, “Vision of Heraclius” and two “Prophets” by Niccolò Circignani aka Pomarancio

“Heraclius carrying the Cross in Jerusalem”, two “Prophets” and “Sibyl” by Cesare Nebbia (1536/1614)


In the niche on the right “Magdalena” and on the left “St. John the Evangelist” Cesare Nebbia

In the lunette above the altar “Eternal Father” by Paris Nogari

The wooden “Crucifix” is a copy of the miraculous one preserved in S. Marcello al Corso

“Madonna of the Sun” maybe dating back to the begin of fifteenth century from the chapel at the Monastery of Tor de' Specchi

Saturday, June 13, 2015



It was built on the site of the church of S. Lucia Vecchia (S. Lucy Old) of the eighth century, also known as S. Lucia in Xenodochio or in Cantosecuto

1544/47 for the Arciconfraternita del Gonfalone (Confraternity of the Gonfalon or banner) founded, according to tradition, in 1264

Since the end of fifteenth century the Confraternity was dedicated to the organization of processions and sacred plays

They used to organize also the reenacting of the Good Friday at the Colosseum that was banned by Pope Paul III Farnese (1534/49) for the crudeness realistic and uncontrolled reactions that it gave rise to, leading even to the killing of some actors who were simulating the killing of Jesus

The scenes painted in this oratorio were probably inspired by the sacred play of Good Friday

Lower order of the FAÇADE 1576/80, higher order completed within 1663 from the project by Domenico Castelli (1582/1657)

From 1960 it was assigned to the Polyphonic Roman Choir which has its concerts here

Wooden ceiling carved in 1568 by Ambrogio Bonazzini with a central “Madonna welcomes the brothers under her cloak”

Mannerist decorations on the walls, one of the most important pictorial translation of the religious and cultural ideals accrued during the Council of Trent the requests of which are perfectly interpreted here:

“Twelve scenes of the Passion” interspersed with spiral columns and topped by “Prophets and Sibyls” 1569/75

“Large collective enterprise of devotional character to the realization of which a large group of artists participated, all formed in the mannerist style. In their works one can distinguish a slow but inexorable process of assimilation of the mannerist language in academic formulations designed to more clearly express devotional values in tune with the needs of piety proper of the cultural climate of the Counter-Reformation” (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)

From the end of the right wall:

“Entry of Christ into Jerusalem” 1569 by Jacopo Zanguidi aka Bertoja (1544/74) who began, coordinated and probably planned the whole cycle

“Last Supper” by Livio Agresti (about 1508/79)

“Agony in the Garden” maybe by Domenico da Modena

“Taking of Christ” maybe by Marcantonio Del Forno

“Christ before Caiaphas” by Raffaellino Motta aka Raffaellino da Reggio (1550/78)

On the entrance wall:

“Flagellation of Christ” 1573/74 by Federico Zuccari (about 1542/1609)

“Here become explicit the scattered and underground references of many sacred Mannerist figures to the stage space of the mysteries of the medieval tradition. The drama, which has Christ as its protagonist, is performed with the curtain open on the forefront of what could be legitimately defined as a dedicated place the sides of which are crowded with the audience, figures of the side scene and veritable Sprecher; and each figure has a tacit message to communicate: some target the senses to accommodate an emotional involvement and some, more thoughtful, show the emblems of ascetic religious meditations, as if to suggest to the faithful the attitude to have before the scene of the Passion commemorated on the wall for them” (Antonio Pinelli)

Above the entrance door:

“Banner with the Trinity and the Virgin Mary expanding her mantle to accommodate members of the Gonfalon” about 1575 by Cesare Rienzi

“King Solomon” by Matteo da Lecce (about 1546/1616)

“Crowning with Thorns” 1576 by Cesare Nebbia 1576 (1536/1614)

Continuing on the left wall:

“Ecce Homo” 1576 by Cesare Nebbia

“Road to Calvary” and “Crucifixion” about 1574 by Livio Agresti (about 1508/79)

“Deposition from the Cross” maybe by Giacomo Rocca (1592/1605)

“Resurrection” about 1572 by Marco Pino aka Marco da Siena (about 1525/87)

“The characteristic of the style of Marco da Siena, as it is also evident in the frescoes of the Castel Sant'Angelo, is the strong modeling, of highly plastic effect. There is also the exaggerated anatomy and the desire for contrast and opposites, typical of the imitators of Michelangelo. A significant example is provided by the Resurrection, where the secondary figures formally seek to dominate that of the Risen with strong movements” (Hermann Voss)

On the Altar:

“Crucifixion” 1557 by Roviale Spagnolo (about 1511/82)

Organ of the second half of the eighteenth century


Three paintings of the seventeenth century from churches destroyed in the 1920s and 1930s:

“Holy Trinity with Sts. Venancio and Ansuino” by Luigi Garzi (1638/1721)

“Guardian Angel” by Giacinto Brandi (1621/91)

“Madonna of the Rosary” by an unknown artist of the school of Carlo Maratta

Friday, June 12, 2015



1630/33, for the Jesuit Father Pietro Gravita

The oratory was dedicated to St. Francis Xavier co-founder, with S. Ignatius of Loyola, of the Jesuit Order

It was restructured in 1670/77 probably by Giovanni Antonio De Rossi (1616/95) and restored in the second half of 1800s

Father Gravita was authorized in 1618 to build an oratory in the Collegio Romano (Roman College) for meetings of the Congregation of the Most Holy General Communion of Urban Mission

The congregation was so successful that in 1630 Gravita was authorized to build a new oratory in the area of the destroyed church of S. Nicholas and Forbitoribus

The acoustic properties of the hall are perfect and it was used for concerts and religious plays

On the death of Father Gravita in 1658 the oratory took its current name “Caravita” due to his name being corrupted


Vault with frescoes “Triumph of the Eucharist” and “Stories of St. Ignatius” about 1671/73 by the pupil of Pietro da Cortona Lazzaro Baldi (about 1624/1703) with assistants. They were heavily repainted in the nineteenth century

On the left “Wooden cross” of the sixteenth century

Above the atrium SMALL ROOM OF THE ANGELS meeting room for students congregated in the College called “the angels”, with frescoes of “Saints” of the eighteenth century by Gaetano Sortini (1715/86) and Odoardo Vicinelli (1683/1755) and stucco reliefs “Allegories” 1745/46 by G.B. Maini (1690/1752)


“Jesus adored by Sts. Francis Xavier, G.B. De Rossi and Leonardo da Porto Maurizio”

Walls frescoed in the second half of the nineteenth century

Main Altar

Canvas: “Holy Trinity and St. Francis Xavier”, on the left “Archangel Michael” and on the right “Guardian Angel” painted in mid-1800 even if some incredibly attribute them to Sebastiano Conca (1680/1764)

“Madonna of Mercy” maybe by Baldassare Peruzzi (1481/1536) from the church of S. Rocco

Monday, June 8, 2015



1966/67 Pier Luigi Nervi (1891/1979)

Huge factory occupying an area of about 110,000 m² (27 acres)

Here are produced and printed all the Italian euro banknotes with ink and watermarked paper produced somewhere else

“The architect Nervi succeeded, thanks to a careful study of balance and a clever use of glass, in the difficult task of greatly alleviate the overall impression of largeness of the building. He used parameters of brightness more common to residential building than to industrial plants” (Website of the Bank of Italy -

The building includes the MUSEO DELLA BANCONOTA (Museum of the Banknote) opened in 2002, year of the introduction of the euro instead of the lira

On display are banknotes, drafts, copies of false banknotes, material and printing equipment

The museum is not open to the public but, as the official website of the Bank of Italy states, “access is only by appointment for experts and connoisseurs of the subject”

Friday, June 5, 2015



It is an ancient Roman obelisk made in imitation of the Egyptian ones, dating back to the imperial period, maybe to the time of Aurelian (270/275), with hieroglyphics, which the Romans imitated from those of the Flaminium Obelisk

It comes from the Horti Sallustiani (Gardens of Sallust) where perhaps used to adorn the central section of a private circus (hippodrome), the Porticus Miliarensis

The knowledge of the Egyptian language was obviously rough at the time, as some hieroglyphs are engraved upside down

It was erected here in 1789 by Giovanni Antinori (1734/92) for Pius VI Braschi (1775/99)

The original base of the obelisk is in the garden of the Capitoline Hill to the left of the Senatorial Palace where it was arbitrarily transformed into an “Altar of the dead fascist” during the fascist period

Tuesday, June 2, 2015



Built for Hadrian (117/138) and dedicated to his gay lover Antinous, who was born in Bithynia in northern Turkey

It was found in 1500 near the church of S. Croce in Gerusalemme, where in antiquity there was the Sessorian Palace and it was moved in 1632 in front of Palazzo Barberini by pope Urban VIII

It was moved again in 1773 in the Cortile della Pigna in the Vatican, where he was never raised, and finally erected here on the Pincian Hill in 1822 by Giuseppe Marini for Pius VII Chiaramonti (1800/23)

The inscriptions on the obelisk say that it was placed on the tomb of Antinous and that the tomb of Antinous was in the garden of the emperor in Rome

Maybe then it was in the gardens of Adonis on the Palatine Hill from which also come the round reliefs of the Arch of Constantine

“The cult of Antinous lasted much longer than the reign of Hadrian, his imperial lover. Free of Hadrian he drew his mass following, and his image is found not only in works of art for the upper classes but also in objects of daily life - lamps, plates and bowls. Whatever was the original idea behind his deification, the ageless Bitinious became a talisman by which the Greeks inhabitants of the empire could simultaneously celebrate their identity and their loyalty to Rome. He embodied the reconciliation between the two dominant cultures of the Mediterranean world. He was the Panhellenic ideal made flesh” (Anthony Everitt)

Monday, June 1, 2015



Erected for Pharaoh Thutmose III (1457/1424 BC) and his nephew Thutmose IV (1398/1388 BC), both mentioned in the inscription, at Thebes in front of the Temple of Ammon in about 1400 BC

At the time of Moses it was already about 200 years old and it stood in front of the Temple of Ammon for about 1700 years in total

It was brought to Rome by Constantius II (337/361) in 357 and placed in the Circus Maximus
Originally Constantine (306/337), Costantius II's father, had it moved from Thebes and taken to Alexandria to be eventually transported to Constantinople, but after his death, Constantius II changed the destination

It was found at 7 m (23 feet) deep in the Circus Maximus and transported to the Lateran by Domenico Fontana (1543/1607) on August 3, 1588 after a year of work in place of the statue of Marcus Aurelius on horseback that had been moved to the Capitol

It is the oldest (if one does not consider the Vatican Obelisk that maybe dates back to 1990 BC) and the highest in Rome: 32.18 m (105.5 feet) and, including the basement, 47 m (154 feet) for a weight of 230 tons (253 tons)

Part of the inscription informs that the obelisk remained in production for thirty years “in the hands of the workers” at the side of the temple of Ammon at Thebes

A small section of the base is still in the center of the Circus Maximus