Saturday, October 13, 2018


1612/20 Rosato Rosati (1559/1622) who also designed the DOME for the Congregation of the Barnabites who wanted to dedicate the church to St. Charles Borromeo (1538/84). He had been canonized in 1610 and he had been a supporter of the congregation

“The ribbed dome was designed with a bold and highly innovative structure compared to the Roman building tradition. For this it was viewed with some skepticism since its implementation, which raised a number of problems from the static point of view, resolved with subsequent interventions of reinforcement for the foundations and the piers. Over the centuries, the dome was also repeatedly threatened by various disasters, including lightning, bullets, and an earthquake in 1915” (Marina Minozzi)

1636/38 G.B. Soria (1581/1651) for Cardinal G.B. Leni whose coat of arms with three gnarled clubs appears carved into the façade several times
1637/46 by Paolo Marucelli (1594/1649)
The church is dedicated also to St. Blaise from the name of the previously destroyed church of the Barnabites

“The façade of G.B. Soria has a structure which is still mannerist, barely touched by some concession to the latest baroque tendencies. (...) The church layout, a Greek cross on a longitudinal plan, responds to the 'congregational' typological scheme, launched in Rome in the Gesù Church and later adopted by many other buildings thanks to its visually open structure, perfectly functional to the preaching needs of the orders established at the turn of the sixteenth century” (Marina Minozzi)

Restored 1857/61 by Virginio Vespignani (1808/82)
On the left “Charity of St. Charles Borromeo to plague victims in Milan” 1652 by Mattia Preti (1613/99)
Frescoes in the lunettes of the counter façade “Beheading of St. Paul” and “Delivery of the Keys to St. Peter” 1860 by Francesco Coghetti (1801/75)

1698/72 Simone Costanzi (active in Rome from 1695/d. 1709) for the Cardinal G.B. Costaguti in precious marbles
The balustrade dates back to 1778
On the altar “Annunciation” 1624 by Giovanni Lanfranco (1582/1647)
The canvas was formerly part of the collection of Cardinal G.B. Costaguti
On the left “Wooden crucifix” of the first half of the seventeenth century formerly in the Chapel of St. Cecilia
Maybe Carlo Rainaldi (1611/91) for Cardinal Giuseppe Assalonne
“The Martyrdom of St. Blaise with St. Sebastian” 1677 by Giacinto Brandi (1621/91)
Carlo Maratta was also consulted for the execution of this altarpiece but Brandi was preferred for his speed in painting and for his fee lower than Maratta's
Frescoes in the lunettes “St. Blaise saving a child” and “Capture of St. Blaise on Mount Argaeus” 1860 by Francesco Coghetti (1801/75)
Under the arch “Angels” painted in the nineteenth-century by Ercole Ruspi
1692/1700 by the brilliant Antonio Gherardi (1638/1702), unfortunately little known to most people, for the Congregation of Musicians after the death in 1691 of Carlo Rainaldi to whom the project was originally commissioned
It is an absolute masterpiece, one of the most exciting and intense chapels of Rome, a veritable baroque explosion illuminated from above by the so called camera di luce (room of light), i.e. a compartment located above the dome wider than the opening, illuminated through a side window
The light is so diffused evenly and mystically in the chapel. It was a system that already Bernini and Borromini had experimented in their baroque creations
On the altar “St. Cecilia and Angels” and decorations by Antonio Gherardi who coordinated masterfully Lorenzo Ottoni (1648/1736), Simone Giorgini (active in Rome 1677/1712), Michel Maille aka Michele Maglia (active in Rome the second half of the seventeenth century) and Jean-Baptiste Théodon (1646/1713)
Sculpture “Angel holds the Cross” in the marble pediment by Michel Maille

“The decorative structure takes over on the architectural structure creating one of the most spectacular effects of the Roman Baroque” (Paolo Portoghesi)

“Both the Avila Chapel in S. Maria in Trastevere and that of St. Cecilia are bold essays of a strange kind of picturesque architecture, transpositions of quadrature painting in three dimensions, based on the careful study of the use of light made by Bernini and his experiments to unify architecture and realistic sculpture. In the chapel of St. Cecilia, in addition, Gherardi quoted Guarini's idea of the truncated dome through which one looks into a different space of different shapes and brightly lit. It is the variety and quantity of the motives freely distributed on the surfaces of the not uniform walls that gives to the chapel the imprint of a late Baroque work” (Rudolf Wittkower)

Late 1700s. On the altar “Lady of Divine Providence” 1732 copy by Pietro Valentini from the original by Scipione Pulzone kept in the convent

Begun 1643 by Girolamo Rainaldi (1570/1655) and Francesco Peparelli (active since about 1626/d. 1641), finished in 1651 by Martino Longhi the Younger (1602/60) for Cardinal Girolamo Colonna
“St. Charles Borromeo carrying the sacred nail in a procession” 1651 by Pietro Berrettini aka Pietro da Cortona (1597/1669). It was put in place in 1657
“Four ancient columns of porphyry” and column on the pediment to symbolize the commissioning family, the Colonnas
On the pediment statues: on the left “Charity towards the neighbor”, on the right “Charity towards God” and “Putti in marble and bronze” about 1643/51 by Orfeo Boselli (about 1600/67)
Ovals on the left “St. Francis de Sales” and on the right “St. Alexander Sauli” about 1850 by Ercole Ruspi

The preparatory cartoons were mysteriously stolen from him and he had to do without them
“According to Bellori the fresco was executed in six months and was inaugurated on the feast day of the saint (5 November 1647), a few weeks before the death of Lanfranco. In the fresco Bellori noted that 'the composition and the figures reveal fatigue with the brush', and in any case, in this work Lanfranco had regained formal discipline, which he had lost over the last frescoes in Naples, because, as Bellori underlines 'in Naples he indulged in his practice; sometimes he was content to do less than what he could have done'“ (Erich Schleier - Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani Treccani)

On the sides statues copies of the ones in St. Peter's Square but smaller
On the right “St. Paul” 1847 by Adamo Tadolini (1788/1868) and on the left “St. Peter” 1847 by Giuseppe De Fabris (1790/1860)
1685 Carlo Fontana (1634/1714) and completed in the nineteenth century by Virginio Vespignani (1808/82)
Choir behind the apse with frescoes that are not visible:
Oval panel “St. Charles in prayer” by Guido Reni (1575/1642) fresco, formerly in the oval on the church façade
Altarpiece “St. Charles Borromeo” about 1623 by Andrea Commodi, first master of Pietro da Cortona, formerly on the main altar of the church
“Miracle of St. Blaise” maybe 1669 by Giovanni Domenico Cerrini (1609/81) or maybe by an unknown artist of the late sixteenth century
“Cardinal virtues”:
Fortress with Self-containment, Justice with Kindness or Charity, Prudence with Time, Temperance with Virginity 1629/30 by Domenico Zampieri aka Domenichino (1581/1641) for Cardinal Scipione Caffarelli Borghese (1577/1633)
The Temperance was finished by his pupil Francesco Cozza (1605/82) and it also represented the heraldic symbols of the Borromeo family: bridle, camel and unicorn
Domenichino was inspired by the book Iconography by Cesare Ripa published for the first time in 1593

“The figures occupy the space with an extraordinary illusionistic effect, celebrated by sources and evident in the shadows painted on the frames in gilded stucco. (...) Time, personified by the old man with the hourglass, is indispensable for the application of contemplation, of judgment and of advice, acts considered fundamental by Aristotle for the practice of the Virtue of Prudence and here respectively symbolized by the mirror, by the cherub who puts the balls in the urn and the putto with the dove and the serpent” (Marina Minozzi)

Paolo Marucelli (1594/1649) about 1635 for Monsignor Marco Filonardi
Above the altar “S. Antonio Maria Zaccaria” about 1897 by Virginio Monti (1852/1942)
S. Antonio Maria Zaccaria was the founder of the Regular Clerks of St. Paul, the Barnabites, and was canonized in 1897
On the right “Persians Martyrs Mario, Martha, Audiface and Abaco” 1641 by Giovanni Francesco Romanelli (1610/62) from Viterbo, a pupil of Pietro da Cortona
In the lunettes on the right “Martyrdom by beheading of the Persian martyrs”, on the left “Persians Martyrs chaplains and preachers of the good news” by Giacinto Gimignani 1641 (1606/81)
On the altar “Death of St. Anne” 1645/49 masterpiece by Andrea Sacchi (1599/1661)
Frescoes in the lunettes “Marriage of Sts. Joachim and Anne” and “Presentation of Mary in the Temple” 1860 by Francesco Coghetti (1801/75)
Under the arch “Angels” maybe by Francesco Trevisani (1656/1746)
1739 Mauro Fontana (1701/67) in precious marble
On the altar “St. Paul and St. Alexander Sauli Barnabite bishop” by an unknown nineteenth-century artist
Sculptures by Agostino Corsini (1688/1772) and Giuseppe Lironi (1689/1749)
Dome and oval panels with stories of St. Paul: “St. Paul receives the visit of Ananias” and “St. Paul preaching to the Athenians” first half of 1600s by Filippo Mondelli
On the left ROOM OF THE BAPTISMAL FONT with eighteenth-century basin and 1840 frescoes by Andrea Giorgini (1798/1844)

1650 “Crucifix” in bronze maybe by Alessandro Algardi (1598/1654)
“Mocking of Christ” about 1598 Giuseppe Cesari aka Cavalier d'Arpino (1568/1640)


741 on the site of the martyrdom of St. Callistus
According to tradition, St. Callistus was found here during the persecutions of Alexander Severus (222/235), he was thrown from a window and then drowned in a well, which is still preserved in the garden of the convent, the St. Callistus Palace
Rebuilt 1610 by Orazio Torriani (about 1601/about 1657)

Two sculptures “Angels” about 1657 maybe by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598/1680) holding the altarpiece “St. Maurus Abbot” by Pier Leone Ghezzi (1674/1755)
“St. Callistus and others worship the Virgin” by Avanzino Nucci (1552/1629)