Tuesday, March 27, 2018


The original church of the end of the twelfth century was known as S. Andrea de Caballo
It was entrusted to the Jesuits in 1565 and restored in 1592 by Giuseppe Valeriano (1542/96)
Completely rebuilt in the years 1658/71 by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598/1680) with the help of Mattia De Rossi (1637/95) by the will of Alexander VII Chigi (1655/67) and the financing first of Camillo Pamphilj and later of his son G.B. Pamphilj
Bernini worked without compensation, which was very unusual for him. He asked the Jesuits, holders of the church, only the bread for his mouth and some gifts
He loved this architectural work and he often spent time in this church during the last years of his life
“The pattern of the aedicula framing the portico is also used inside, on the same axis, by the aedicula framing the altar niche as an entity entirely homogeneous. But there is a reversal in the direction of motion: while outside the cornice above the oval body of the church seems to go toward the visitor who comes over and stop in the portico, the nearest point to him, inside the movement is in the opposite direction and stops at the farthest point from the entrance. Moreover, the isolated niche for the altar is the opposite of the projecting portico and, thus expressing their different functions: the second calls, the first excludes the faithful” (Rudolf Wittkower)
1670/71 Mattia De Rossi executed by G.B. Baratta and Giuseppe Baratta
Group in stucco Two allegories of fame unroll a scroll exalting Camillo Pamphilj” by Jean Regnaud (active second half of the seventeenth century) sculptor follower of Bernini known as monsù Giovanni Rinaldi o Giovanni di Sciampagna because he came from the French region of Champagne
“The elliptical plan illusively expands the breadth of the church and our eyes are forced to follow the trend of the pillars flying over the dark minor chapels. The orbital path leads to the main chapel that belongs to the divine sphere with a delightful plastic representation of St. Andrew's ascension: the church becomes the ideal structure of a dramatic theatrical action” (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)
Above the altar “Death of St. Francis Xavier” 1676
On the right “Preaching to the people of the East” about 1706/1709
On the left “Baptism of a pagan queen” about 1706/1709 works by G.B. Gaulli aka Baciccio (1639/1709)
In the vault “Glory of St. Francis Xavier” painted by Filippo Bracci (1727/after 1746)
Above the altar “Deposition” 1675/77
On the right “Flagellation”
On the left “Road to Calvary” 1677 works by Giacinto Brandi (1621/91)
Vault painted by Filippo Bracci
Above the altar “Martyrdom of St. Andrew” 1668/71 by Guillaume Courtois aka Borgognone (1628/79)
Above the altar statue of “St. Andrew” and stuccos in the DOME 1662/65 by Ercole Antonio Raggi (1624/86) from an idea by Bernini
Four huge columns with Corinthian capitals in pink cottanello marble crafted by Giovanni Maria Baratta (known from 1644/d. after 1679)
“The visitor's attention is absorbed more strongly than in other churches, by the dramatic event, which owes its power of suggestion to the way it dominates the severe architectonical lines. Color and light collaborate to the miraculous ascension. Below, in the human sphere the church shines with precious multi-colored dark marble. At the top of the dome in the celestial sphere, the colors are black and gold” (Rudolf Wittkower)
“Tomb of Charles Emmanuel IV of Savoy” by Angelo Testa for King Carlo Felice. He abdicated in 1802 and died in the adjacent convent of the Jesuits in 1819
Above the altar “Madonna and Child with St. Stanislaus Kostka” 1687 by Carlo Maratta (1625/1713)
On the right “Communion given by an Angel” 1725
On the left “Ecstasy of St. Stanislaus Kotska” 1725 by Ludovico Mazzanti (1686/1775)
In the vault “Glory of St. Stanislaus Kotska” by Giovanni Odazzi (1663/1731)
On the right “Adoration of the Shepherds”
On the left “Adoration of the Magi” 1692 by Ludovico Antonio David (1648/about 1710) from Lugano
In the vault “Glory of Angels” by Giuseppe Chiari (1654/1727)
Three rooms of St. Stanislaus Kostka:
They were renovated and decorated in the years 1888/89
These are not in fact the rooms in which St. Stanislaus Kotstka, belonging to a rich and noble Polish family, died in 1568 at only eighteen years of age when he arrived in Rome. He was canonized in 1729
In the first room twelve tempera painting “Stories of St. Stanislaus Kotstka” maybe by Andrea Pozzo (1642/1709) or Giacomo Zoboli (1681/1767)
In the third room extraordinary “Polychrome marble statue of St. Stanislaus Kotska” 1703 by Pierre Legros (1666/1719)
“Apparition of the Virgin Mary to St. Stanislaus Kotstka” 1825 by Tommaso Minardi (1787/1871)
Sixteenth century copy of the iconic image “Salus Populi Romani” in S. Maria Maggiore of which St. Stanislaus Kotstka was very fond
1669/70 Gian Lorenzo Bernini with stuccos by Pietro Sassi and six medallions in monochrome with “Stories of the most revered Jesuit saints”
Wooden furniture 1678/82
Altar “Marian Image” by an anonymous Roman painter of the second half of 1600s
In the vault “Glory of St. Andrew” 1670 by Jean de la Borde

Monday, March 26, 2018


1552/53 Jacopo Barozzi aka Vignola (1507/73) for Julius III Ciocchi del Monte (1550/55)
It is also known as S. ANDREA DEL VIGNOLA (St. Andrew by Vignola) the only case in Rome and perhaps in the world of a church who took the name of its architect
“He was perhaps the best known and most representative architect of the late Renaissance. Central figure in the mannerist phase architecture, Vignola was characterized by his innovative and modular way of composing the masses through the application of architectural orders. (...) Simple is the church of St. Andrew (...), the first with a pseudo-central plan due to the use of the ellipse instead of the circle” (Enciclopedia Treccani)
“There is no doubt that Vignola's artistic activity represents a strong reaction against Michelangelo's whims as a sculptor and architect, as well as his followers'. Instead of emphasizing unilaterally the sculptural effect of single elements, Vignola emphasizes again the rhythm and uniformity of the whole. The value of Vignola's work consists in refusing any personal arbitrary idea in favor of the general final result where the main feature is the proportionality of the surfaces. It is obvious that here are shown the same tendencies present in the Roman style of painting lead by the Zuccari's, which was opposing the arbitrary sculptural style of Michelangelo followed on by the Tuscan painters” (Hermann Voss)
Julius III wanted to build it as thanksgiving in memory of his escape on November 30, the day of St. Andrew, during the sack of Rome in 1527 from Palace of the Chancellery, where, still a cardinal, the Landsknechts held him captive
He offered his guards heavily drugged wine and fled with the help of Prospero Colonna
The popes never gave the church a pastoral function. It never had a convent or other ecclesiastical institution, it had no relic or miraculous icon to attract pilgrims and it was in an area that was virtually uninhabited until modern times
It was abandoned in the eighteenth century
Restored 1805 by Giuseppe Valadier (1762/1839) who appreciated the austere style of the church close to his neo-classicism. It inspired his church of S. Maria Porto della Salute in Fiumicino
It was restored again in 1826 and 1828
It is the church of the Coptic community of Rome, the Christians from Egypt
“The Coptic rite is one of the oldest of Christianity, says Father Filippo, pastor of the Coptic Catholic community in Rome. During the Mass, sung entirely in Arabic the life of Jesus is celebrated, from birth, symbolized by the bread, to the resurrection, represented by the chalice emerging from its container, progressively freed from the sheets that cover it representing the shroud of Christ. The faithful always receive communion with both bread and wine” (Sandra Fratticci - www.piuculture.it)
Frescoes “Stories of St. Andrew” by Girolamo Siciolante da Sermoneta (1521/80) and Pellegrino Tibaldi (1527/96), both pupils of Perin del Vaga
“S. Andrew thanks God for the privilege of the crucifixion” by Girolamo Siciolante da Sermoneta

Sunday, March 25, 2018


Built in the fourth century as the official place of worship for the imperial dignitaries of Palatine Hill
It was dedicated to St. Anastasia martyred in the year 253 but it was probably originally dedicated to the worship of the Anástasis, the resurrection
After the torture Anastasia's breasts were cut, her nails torn, her teeth broken, her hands and feet cut off. She finally died only by decapitation
It was restored in the eighth and ninth century and the end of 1400s for Pope Sixtus IV Della Rovere (1471/84)
Final restructuring with a new FAÇADE in 1636 by Luigi Arrigucci (1575/after 1643) for Urban VIII Barberini (1623/44) after a tornado had destroyed the previous façade in 1634
Interior decorated in the years 1721/22 by the Maltese Carlo Gimach (1651/1730)
This was the first church ever where the practice of the perpetual Eucharistic adoration began in 2001, a practice now spread throughout the world
“Martyrdom of St. Anastasia” 1722 by the Roman Michelangelo Cerruti (1663/1748)
Above the altar “St. John the Baptist” by Pier Francesco Mola (1612/66)
Incredible reliquary with relics of thirty-four saints and blessed, including the Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Above the altar “S. Toribio” 1726 by Francesco Trevisani (1656/1746)
“Nativity” and other paintings by Lazzaro Baldi
“Renouncing to the throbbing vitality and dynamism of his master Pietro da Cortona, he acquired Venetian solutions inspired by Pierfrancesco Mola and revived by Gaulli, he also acquired the expressive taste for darkness of Giacinto Brandi or he yielded toward formal balance, showing sensitivity to the calibrated compositional layout of Carlo Maratta, more befitting his measured mood” (Antonella Pampalone)
Under the altar statue of “St. Anastasia” by Francesco Aprile (?/1685) completed in 1667 by Ercole Ferrata (1610/86)
“Tomb of Cardinal Angelo Mai” in 1857 by Giovanni Maria Benzoni (1799/1873)
Altar painting “Madonna of the Rosary” by Lazzaro Baldi under which a medieval fresco was found
“St. Jerome” maybe by Domenico Zampieri aka Domenichino (1581/1641)
In the lunette “Martyrdom of St. Anastasia” by an anonymous seventeenth-century artist
“Sts. George and Publius” by Etienne Parrocel (1696/1774)
Attached to the church MONASTERY OF THE OLIVETANI FATHERS with the façade of the second half of 1600s on Via dei Cerchi facing the Circus Maximus

Thursday, March 22, 2018


Erected, according to tradition, over the house of the father of St. Ambrose (about 334/397) who would have lived here before being transferred as consul in Milan where he later became bishop, in the area once occupied by the TEMPLE OF HERCULES MUSAGETE
According to tradition, at the time of St. Leo III (795/816) it became the property of a certain Maxima, hence perhaps the name, who built a Latin cross church with monastery
The specification De Maxima in the name of the church appears in the sources only in the thirteenth century and, in fact, it is most likely derived from the nearby Cloaca Maxima, the oldest sewer of Rome, or from a commercial building known as Porticus Maxima
It was called S. Stefano de Maxima and S. Maria in Formosa but in the fifteenth century it returned to its original name
Rebuilt in the years 1606/26 maybe by Carlo Maderno (1556/1629) for the De Torres family
Complete with dome and side altars in 1633 by Orazio Torriani (about 1601/about 1657)
The FAÇADE was rebuilt in 1863 on the model of the previous one and on the same year the church was restored and the interior embellished with inlaid marble altar frontages taken from Ligurian churches
Since 1861 the monks of Subiaco live in the premises
Nineteenth-century painting “Sts. Marcellina, Ambrose and Satyr” which replaced the painting by Pietro da Cortona “Martyrdom of St. Stephen” stolen in 1810
Statue “St. Benedict” of the Roman Orfeo Boselli (about 1600/67), who was inspired by the style of François Duquesnoy
“Crucifixion” copy with variations from the original by Francesco Trevisani (1656/1746) in S. Sylvester in Capite
Canvas of 1974 painted on the occasion of the visit of Pope Paul VI to the Church
“Cardinal Virtues”: “Justice defeats Envy”, “Fortress defeats Fear”, “Temperance defeats Lust” and “Prudence defeats Luck” about 1633 by Francesco Cozza (1605/82), pupil of Domenichino
“This is actually the triumphs of the cardinal virtues on the personifications of the vices opposing them, as they are described by Cesare Ripa in his Iconology. (...) Inspired by similar depictions of Domenichino in S. Carlo ai Catinari, Francesco Cozza is shown here firmly rooted in his training with the first generation of Bolognese classicists” (Francesca Cappelletti)
“S. Mauro heals a paralytic” by Ciro Ferri (1634/89)
Frescoes “Life of the Virgin Mary” maybe by Giuseppe Cesari aka Cavalier d'Arpino (1568/1640) and his school
Altar “Medieval Icon” discovered in S. Benedict in Piscinula in 1846, heavily restored. Only the face of the Virgin Mary is original
Canvas “Ss. Joseph, Ambrose and Marcellina” of the second half of 1800s
Fresco transferred to canvas in 1963 originally in the portico of the church from which it was detached in 1862 “Deposition with the patrons Benedictine Sisters” about 1497 by Antonio Aquili aka Antoniazzo Romano (about 1435-40/1508)
“The scene follows the iconography of the Nordic Vesperbild (image of the vesper), a subject of popular piety derived from Northern Europe and common in the Umbria region, but very unusual in Rome. Towards the end of the fifteenth century Michelangelo will be the one (...) to give fame and nobility to this Nordic popular subject. In the Roman painting the theme of the Pietà is inserted in a more complex figurative system with the presence in the background of the symbols of the 'Arma Christi' (Arms of Christ), according to an association quite common starting from the second half of the fourteenth century to encourage the faithful to meditate, prompting emotional involvement” (Anna Cavallaro)
“Death of St. Benedict” about 1609 by Baccio Ciarpi (1574/1654)
“In Rome he had Pietro da Cortona as one of his pupils. His works show a conventional narrative language in a reformed key, enriched with a luminosity influenced by Caravaggio” (Enciclopedia Treccani)


1855/59 George Wigley (?/1866) on the site of the seventeenth-century Villa Caetani
Modified in the years 1898/1900 by Maximilian Schmalzl (1850/1930)
First example of Gothic revival in Rome
S. Alfonso Liguori (1696/1787) was a bishop from Naples, intellectual and theologian, founder of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer or of the Redemptorists. He was proclaimed a saint in 1839
He was also a musician and composer of songs including the popular Christmas carol From Starry Skies Thou Comest. He is buried in Pagani in the Salerno province
Paintings by Eugenio Cisterna (1862/1933)
On the main altar there is the venerated “Our Lady of Perpetual Help” painted on board in the fifteenth century by an anonymous artist of the Cretan school
Attached to the church PALACE OF THE REDEMPTORISTS HEADQUARTERS 1934 by Alessandro Villa in Neo-Baroque style

Wednesday, March 21, 2018


Built in the eighth century over a previous building of the fourth century dedicated to St. Boniface
The name of Alexius, Roman saint of the fifth century, was added in the year 977 when some monks arrived from Damascus in the monastery attached to the church
The real name of the church is Ss. BONIFACIO E ALESSIO (Sts. Boniface and Alexius)
Rebuilt in 1217 (also the belfry) by Honorius III Savelli (1216/27)
Restored in 1582
Renovated in 1750 (also the façade) by Tommaso De Marchis (1693/1759) who was also the architect of Palazzo Mellini on Via del Corso
Restored 1852/60 for the Somaschi Fathers
Under the church there is archaeological evidence including an ancient well, perhaps belonging to the house of Senator Eufimiano father of St. Alexius
“Tomb of Eleonora Boncompagni Borghese” 1693 by G.B. Contini (1641/1723) with sculptures by Andrea Fucigna (about 1660/1711)
“Icon of the Virgin Mary” thirteenth century, believed to have been brought here by St. Alexius himself
“Evangelists, Redeemer, and two angels” 1860 by Carlo Gavardini (1811/69)
These paintings were not very successful at the time, for their character “too gay”, not suitable for the church
Two little columns dating back to 1217. The one on the right is by Jacopo di Lorenzo di Cosma (first half of XIII century)
It is the only Romanesque crypt in Rome with canopy underneath which the relics of Thomas of Canterbury are kept
Frescoes XII/XIII century
“Column” believed the one of the martyrdom of St. Sebastian
“S. Girolamo Emiliani introducing orphans to the Virgin Mary” end of 1600s/beginning of 1700s by Jean François de Troy (1679/1752)
De Troy was one of many French artists who worked in Rome in the first half of the eighteenth century and became part of the Roman art scene to such an extent as to become the prince of the Roman Academy of St. Luke in 1744
“By accepting a wide variety of jobs, not only for portraits, but also for religious and mythological compositions, De Troy became famous for his 'tableaux de mode', genre scenes inspired by the worldly and elegant salons he used to attend. (...) While conducting a brilliant social life, he continued his work as a painter creating such cards upholstery for the King of France, the altarpieces for the churches of Rome or smaller works for collectors” (Stéphane Loire)
“S. Girolamo Emiliani praying the Virgin Mary” 1860 by Carlo Gavardini (1811/69)
Scenic baroque machinery in stucco and wood “Holy Stairs and St. Alexius” by Andrea Bergondi (active in Rome XVIII century) which houses the wooden staircase believed to be the one under which St. Alexius lived for seventeen years of his father's charity without ever being recognized
In the convent since 1941 there is the NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ROMAN STUDIES library with about 25,000 books about history, literature, archeology and urban planning in Rome

Friday, March 16, 2018

St. AUGUSTINE (second part)

Left End Side of the Church
To the left of the main altar
Frescoes and stucco work on the ceiling “Stories of St. Monica” about 1585/90 by G.B. Ricci (about 1550/1624)
Frescoes on the side walls:
On the left “St. Monica comforted by a bishop” and “Vision of St. Augustine converted”, on the right “Conversion of St. Augustine” and “Death of St. Monica” in the altar wall “S. Navigio and S. Perpetua” other children of S. Monica about 1850 by Pietro Gagliardi (1809/90)
On the left “Tomb of St. Monica” (mother of St. Augustine) with sculpture maybe by Isaia da Pisa (active 1447/64) on the very strigillated sarcophagus in which St. Monica was originally buried after her death in 387 in Ostia waiting to embark with his son for Africa
The remains of the saint were moved during the restoration of Vanvitelli in the “Urn of ancient green marble” under the altar
On the right “Tomb of Cardinal Pietro Grifi” sixteenth century
Leftmost chapel
Three canvas: “Madonna appears to Sts. William of Aquitaine and Augustine” in the middle, “St. William of Aquitaine visited and healed by Our Lady” on the left and “St. Augustine ponders the mystery of the Trinity” on the right 1616, first public work in Rome and extraordinary masterpiece by the Baroque giant Giovanni Lanfranco (1582/1647)
The effect of optical illusion was diminished when the large tomb of Cardinal Lorenzo Imperiali was built and reduced the visibility of the chapel from the outside. Originally the effect was spectacular as only a balustrade was separating the chapel from the church
“In the vault Lanfranco built the first Baroque dome in Rome, transforming elements of Correggio illusionism in a style attributable to an influence of Annibale Carracci. The side paintings are instead dominated by a Caravaggio-like chiaroscuro atmosphere. A first version of the altar piece with only Christ crowning the Virgin (without God the Father) and a different location of the two adoring saints in the lower part, which did not please the clients and the Augustinians, is now in the Louvre” (Eric Schleier - Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani)
Marble decoration by Giovanni Maria Baratta (active since 1644/d. after 1679) with the statue of “St. Thomas of Villanova and Charity” outstanding masterpiece of Melchiorre Caffà (1636/67) finished by Ercole Ferrata (1610/86)
The poor Melchiorre Caffà died after completing St. Thomas and having sketched the woman who was executed by Ferrata who also sculpted the statues on the pediment
The chapel was dedicated to St. Thomas of Villanova after his canonization in 1658
“The female figure is not an anonymous woman of the people: in an act of poetic identification of the donor with the recipient, she appears in the traditional role of Charity. Placing her outside the central niche and turning her toward the saint, the artist has transformed her as a link between real life and the fictional world of art. Instead of worshiping a cult image the poor who pray here are encouraged to identify with the one who receives alms and to participate in charitable work of the active Church. These figures exhibit a super sensitive spirituality, an almost morbid sensitivity, compared to which the works by Bernini appear massive, strong and manly” (Rudolf Wittkower)
Reliefs in stucco “Miracles of St. Thomas of Villanova” about 1760 by Andrea Bergondi (active in Rome XVIII century)
In the upper right side “Tomb of Cardinal Lorenzo Imperiali with allegories of Fame, Time and Death” 1672 by Domenico Guidi (1625/1701)
The eagle flying out of the tomb represents the soul of the Cardinal
Four “Doctors of the Church” by Isaia da Pisa (active 1447/64) originally part of St. Monica's tomb
“Two busts of Augustinians” by Gaspare Sibilla (about 1723/82)
“Crucifix between Sts. Cosmas and Damian” in marble maybe by Luigi Capponi (active end of 1400s/beginning of 1500s)
Above the door relief with “Christ dead held by two angels” maybe by Giovanni Duknovich aka Giovanni Dalmata (about 1440/1510)
Oil paintings on the side walls and in the apse “Stories of St. John of Sahagún” about 1660 by artists of the Roman School
S. Apollonia was a martyr of the third century in Alexandria
She had her teeth torn before spontaneously throwing herself into the fire. That's why she was declared patron saint of the dentists
“S. Apollonia” about 1585 by Girolamo Muziano (1532/92)
On the right “Allegoric figure symbolizing Martyrdom” and on the left “Allegoric figure symbolizing Virginity” about 1660 works by Francesco Rosa (active since 1674/d. 1687) Roman pupil of Nicolas Poussin and Pietro da Cortona
Extraordinary oil painting “St. Clare of Montefalco” about 1751 by Sebastiano Conca (1680/1764)
St. Clare of Montefalco gives her heart to Christ in search of a place to plant the Cross, disturbing and morbid subject chosen by Sebastiano Conca for one of his last Roman works before returning to Naples
St. Clare was beatified in 1742, a period which was the arrangement of the chapel, and was canonized only in 1881
On the walls on the right “St. Clare in prayer” and on the left “Apparition of Christ to St. Clare” by an anonymous eighteenth-century artist
1643 Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598/1680) for Angelo Pio. Bernini probably entrusted the construction of the chapel to Andrea Bolgi (1606/56)
Apse with frescoes and stucco “Angelic Glory” about 1643/49 by Guidobaldo Abbatini (1600/56)
The altarpiece “Assumption of the Virgin Mary” also by Abbatini was destroyed during the eighteenth century renovations by Vanvitelli
The image of the Madonna and Child on the altar is a copy of the “Madonna del Buonconsiglio” venerated in Genazzano
On the right “Tomb of Angelo Pio” about 1649 and on the left “Tomb of Baldassarre Pio” about 1643 maybe by Andrea Bolgi
Body of St. Benedict Martyr from the Catacomb of S. Callisto moved here in 1930
Bernini mingled here for the first time frescoes and stucco with an artifice that has made seem “actually true that fake that is nothing but fake”
“The awareness in architectural terms, of the problem of light may proceed from the primitive image of the altar of St. Bibiana and, as successive stages, with the monument of the Countess Matilda in St. Peter's, the Raymondi Chapel in S. Pietro in Montorio and the Pio Chapel in St. Augustine. (...) This would bring together works that have in common the purist choice of a single material, white marble, and derive from the experience tied to the constraints of the artistic formation of the sculptor and still are part of the fortune of white marble in Rome around 1630 when, at S. Carlino and Sts. Luke and Martina, the two main antagonists of Bernini lay the foundations of their architectural work, renouncing to the enrichment of colors, typical of Roman Mannerism” (Paolo Portoghesi)
Shocking “Madonna of the Pilgrims” 1603/04 (1606?) by Michelangelo Merisi aka Caravaggio (1571/1610) for Ermete Cavalletti
The Madonna is a portrait of Lena (perhaps also portrayed in the “Death of the Virgin” in the Louvre) holding her son Paul
She was a friend and lover of Caravaggio and because of her the bloody fight took place in Piazza Navona in July 1605 between Caravaggio and the notary Mariano Pasqualoni: Caravaggio seriously injured the notary and he was forced to flee to Genoa for three weeks during which his powerful protectors covered up the story
For the posture of the Virgin Mary Caravaggio was maybe inspired by the ancient sculpture Barbarian Woman or Tusnelda kept in Villa Medici at the time and now in Florence
For the purely classical features of the face and for the long neck perhaps Caravaggio was inspired by the statue of Jacopo Sansovino, the Madonna del Parto a few steps from here
Among the many extraordinary details of a piece of art that moves, engages and shakes the soul one could mention the superb high contrast of light on the face of the Child Jesus, who, also because of this, really manages to appear at once human and divine, as very few similar images in the world do
Also striking is the incredible consistency of the material of the white cloth, symbolizing the shroud of Christ, hanging from the right arm of the Virgin Mary, one of the many technical virtuosity of Caravaggio always fitting and meaningful, never an exercise in self-indulgence
“It still has in common with the Deposition and the Cerasi paintings the diagonal composition, the low eye level and the close-up vision. But the intense darkness of the space envelops the figures even more, it doesn't highlight them from the sculptural point of view as strongly as in Deposition. Whilst generally the Madonna of Loreto is represented enthroned in Her Holy House as she is carried by the angels, the Virgin Mary here is resting on the threshold of a house in Rome in front of two common pilgrims with bare and dirty feet. It was a completely new idea that caused a stir especially among the common people who had identified themselves in those two pilgrims. It is the most moving Caravaggio's painting from the human point of view, based as it is on the meeting, on the close proximity of the pilgrims pious and full of hope, representing the whole of humanity, with the Madonna and Child bringing love, blessing and redemption” (Erich Schleier)
On the right “St. William of Aquitaine” and on the left “St. Mary Magdalene” beginning of 1600s, all works by Cristoforo Casolani (1587/1629), a pupil of Cristoforo Roncalli aka Pomarancio
1756/60 by Luigi Vanvitelli (1700/73) and Carlo Murena (1713/64) to replace the old sacristy incorporated into the convent. In the process Vanvitelli destroyed the Chapel of St. Helena with paintings by Daniele da Volterra
Outside the sacristy
To the right of the door of the sacristy “Bust of Panvinio Onofrio (1530/68)” by Gaspare Sibilla (about 1723/82)
Onofrio Panvinio was the founder of Christian archeology and modern ecclesiastical historiography. It was he who first dated from the sources the foundation of Rome on 21 April 753 BC
Above the door of the sacristy “Bust of Cardinal Guillaume d'Estouteville” patron of the church
Inside the sacristy
Above the door painting “Preaching of St. Augustine” maybe by Girolamo Muziano (1532/92)
In the ceiling “Baptism of St. Augustine” in 1887 by Pietro Gagliardi (1809/90)
Altar altarpiece “Alms of St. Thomas of Villanova” by Giovanni Francesco Romanelli (1610/62) from Viterbo, a pupil of Pietro da Cortona
Cabinets made out of wood from Brazil 1760
“Even in the sacristy, as in the works for the convent, the intervention of Vanvitelli is based on a classical and solemn style, with clean lines and harmonious proportions. The simple and almost austere design of the architectural is softened and made more elegant by curvilinear elements as the rounded corners, the clipei, the design of the floor” (Valeria Annecchino)
Angelic Library
Next to the church, the first library in Rome open to the public, founded in 1614 by the Augustinian Angelo Rocca. It is specialized in literature and philology
It became property of the Italian State in 1873
Since 1941 it is the headquarters of the ACCADEMIA LETTERARIA DELL'ARCADIA (Literary Academy of the Arcadia)
It contains about 200,000 volumes, 2,650 manuscripts and more than 1,000 incunabula
Francesco Borromini (1599/1667) designed in 1659 a new wing, executed in the years 1659/69 by Francesco Righi
It was enlarged in the years 1756/65 by Luigi Vanvitelli (1700/73) and Carlo Murena who designed on the first floor the room known as the “Vase”
The shelves in walnut wood date back to 1668
“Two pairs of celestial and terrestrial globes” 1599 and 1603 unique in Italy
Now it is the Palazzo dell'Avvocatura Generale dello Stato (Palace of the State Attorney General)