Saturday, March 2, 2019


Dating back to the late fourth century and mentioned in the sources since the year 418 as TITULUS MARCELLI
The Pope Marcellus (308/309) was forced by Maxentius (306/312) to serve in the CATABULUM (headquarters of the organization of public transport) that used to be located in this area and his body was later moved in this church at the end of the eight century or at the beginning of the ninth
Rebuilt in the twelfth century
From 1368 it was assigned to the Servants of Mary or Servites who still officiate it today
It was destroyed in 1519 by a fire that spared only the outer walls and a wooden crucifix which was therefore revered as miraculous
Reconstruction began in 1519 with a project by Jacopo Tatti aka Jacopo Sansovino (1486/1570), who was replaced in 1527 by Antonio Cordini aka Antonio da Sangallo the Younger (1483/1546) and Annibale Lippi (active in Rome the second half of the sixteenth century)
With this reconstruction the orientation of the church was reversed and the entrance was moved from Piazza Ss. Apostoli to Via del Corso
Finished in 1592

1682/86 masterpiece by Carlo Fontana (1634/1714)
“The façade is a free interpretation of the examples of his teachers Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Carlo Rainaldi. Slightly concave, the front has a lively articulation: the two side wings give the structure elasticity, underlined by the imaginative portico with free columns and pediment with spirals. The pictorial qualities of the architecture derive instead from the plastic elements of nature, such as palm leaves, connecting the two side wings and the median body, and the fan at the center of the aedicula of the second order” (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)
“The design of the aedicula gives the impression of being removable and gives to its superstructure - the broken pediment with the empty picture frame - its scenic quality. The principle used here corresponds to that of theatrical wings not connected, a principle that is foreign to the structures of the Roman Baroque, but inherent to the classicism of the late Baroque” (Rudolf Wittkower)
Sculptures in the lower part “St. Marcellus” and “St. Philip Benizi” 1686 by Francesco Cavallini (active 1672/1703)
Sculptures in the upper part “Blessed Gioacchino Piccolomini”, “Blessed Francesco Patrizi” and, on the pediment, “Faith” and “Hope” 1701/03 by Andrea Fucigna (about 1660/1711)
Relief “St. Philip Benizi renunciation of the tiara” supported by “Angels” 1683 by Ercole Antonio Raggi (1624/86)

Decoration continued until the eighteenth century
Restoration 1861/67 by Virginio Vespignani (1808/82) and 1923

1592/97 Carlo Lambardi (1545/1619)
Decorated by G.B. Ricci (about 1550/1624) and repainted by Virginio Vespignani

Huge “Crucifixion” 1613 by G.B. Ricci
To the left “Monument to Cardinal Francesco Cennini” 1668 by Giovanni Francesco De Rossi (active 1640/77)
To the right “Dual monument of Cardinal Giovanni Michiel and his nephew Bishop Antonio Orso” maybe by Jacopo Tatti aka Jacopo Sansovino (1486/1570)
Cardinal Giovanni Michiel was killed with poison in 1503 by members of the Borgia family. The volumes represented in the work allude to the 370 codes that the Cardinal gave the library of the convent

On the altar “Annunciation” by Lazzaro Baldi (about 1624/1703)
In the upper part “Madonna and Child” of the fifteenth century possibly from the old church
In the vault “Colonnade foreshortened with putti” about 1605 by Tarquinio Ligustri (about 1563/1621)
Wooden group “Pieta” of the end of the seventeenth century, derived from a painting by Annibale Carracci
“It's interesting because it was conceived to be part of a processional apparatus for the transport, in particular festive occasions, of the miraculous Crucifix. The processional wagon was rebuilt to a design by Francesco Carlo Bizzaccheri, on the occasion of the Holy Year 1700. Filippo Leti was responsible for the lighting apparatus, consisting of four large lights, and several smaller ones. A riot of leaves and garlands, angels, lilies, candles, the Caetani family coat of arms, who had paid for rebuilding the machine, on top of the imperial crown with many jewels, as well as fragrances that wafted in its path, gave rise to a real touring show” (Francesca Aloisi)
On the side pillars “Sts. Peter, Paul, Ursula and Giacinta Marescotti” by Silverio Capparoni (1831/1907)

About 1725 by Francesco Ferrari (active in Rome 1721/44)
On the altar “The Martyrdom of Sts. Degna and Merita” 1727 by Pietro Barbieri (1684/1730), pupil of Carlo Maratta
Vault “Glory of the Sts. Degna and Merita” by Ignazio Stern (1679/1748)
On the walls “Monuments of Maria Colomba Vincentini and Giovanni Muti” 1725 by Bernardino Cametti (1669/1736)
“The entire chapel forms a unity of color and light of airy architectural character and the new spirit of the eighteenth century is perfectly expressed by the graceful elegance of the faithful behind the pews just as the spirit of the seventeenth century was expressed by devotees in deep mystical contemplation” (Rudolf Wittkower)

“Pulpit” maybe by Mattia De Rossi (1637/95), pupil of Bernini, or by the sculptor Giovanni Mattia De Rossi
Under the pulpit “Angel” by Pietro Paolo Naldini (1619/91)

Altarpiece “Madonna with Child” of the beginning the fourteenth century by an anonymous Roman painter
“Very interesting fresco of the very early fourteenth century, by a Roman painter updated on models of Assisi and Giotto” (Francesca Aloisi)
On the back wall five panels “Life of the Virgin Mary” about 1562 by Francesco de' Rossi aka Francesco Salviati (1510/63)
There is also the story of the Purification, rarely represented
In the vault frescoes with “Life of the Virgin Mary” by G.B. Ricci (about 1550/1624)
“Funeral Monument of Bishop Matteo Grifoni” by Stoldo Lorenzi (about 1533-34/1583)
Bishop Matteo Grifoni had commissioned the decoration of the chapel in 1519 to the young Pietro Bonaccorsi aka Perin del Vaga (1501/47). Of his work the only trace left are perhaps the two angels holding the crown of the Virgin Mary
The tomb of the bishop was placed here only in 1651

CRYPT OF LORD HUGH CHARLES CLIFFORD 1837/38 by Agostino Giorgioli with “Four marble reliefs” in the lunettes, two statues of “Angels” and “Crucifix” in alabaster by Costantino Brumidi (1805/80), among of the few works of sculpture of the Roman artist
Costantino Brumidi was primarily a painter and, after his involvement in the events of the Roman Republic of 1848, he went to America and painted for 25 years the U.S. Capitol in Washington

“Wooden crucifix” of the fifteenth century
It was believed to be miraculous in 1519 when it remained intact after a fire that destroyed the church and after the plague of 1522 was believed to have ceased as a result of its presence in a procession
This event led to the founding of the Brotherhood of the Holy Cross and the construction of the nearby Oratory of the Most Holy Crucifix
The crucifix is kept in a tabernacle with paintings on the door “Angels supporting the Cross” by Luigi Garzi (1638/1721)
“Ciborium” in semi-precious stones 1689/91 by Francesco Carlo Bizzaccheri (1655/1721)
Under the table “Memorial stone” of the third century AD, reworked in the twelfth century, flanked by Roman military insignia (eagles). It was found in 1909. The opus sectile (inlaid marble) in the frontal dates back to the twelfth century
To the left “Monument of Cardinal Ercole Consalvi and of his brother Andrea” 1831 by Rinaldo Rinaldi (1793/1873)
To the right “Monument of Cardinal Carlo Grano” d. 1977 by Tommaso Gismondi (1906/2003)
In the vault frescoes “Creation of Eve”, Evangelists “Mark” and “John” by Pietro Bonaccorsi aka Perin del Vaga (1501/47) who also began “Matthew” and “Luke” finished by Daniele da Volterra (1509/66)
The frescoes were begun in the years 1525/27, interrupted for the sack of Rome in 1527 and then completed only between the years 1540/43
“For the design and the compositional layout of this difficult work Perin del Vaga was inspired both by the fresco on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and by the little scenes of the Vatican Loggia. From Michelangelo the figure of Eve, who turns to the creator with a gesture of adoration, from Raphael the figure of the Father, whose profile shows some vigorous drawing. Quite peculiar and extremely convincing the young and slim figure of Adam, lying on the ground in a deep state of unconsciousness. The figures of the Evangelists have a purely decorative purpose. They blend in with each other in the amplitude of the relief pattern typical of Perin del Vaga; the rhythms of the robes rustle solemnly around their well-proportioned bodies” (Hermann Voss)
1725 Ludovico Rusconi Sassi (1678/1736)
Above the altar “S. Pellegrino Laziosi healed by the Savior”, on the right “Healing of a blind child” and on the left “Miracle of Our Lady of Fire” by Aureliano Milani (1675/1749)
On the right “Monument of Cardinal Fabrizio Paolucci” by Pietro Bracci (1700/73)
On the left oval marble with “Portrait of Cardinal Camillo Merlini Paolucci”, supported by putti, 1776 by Tommaso Righi (1727/1802)

1569 Annibale Lippi (active in Rome the second half of the sixteenth century), modified by Virginio Vespignani (1808/82)
Fresco on the altar “Triumph of St. Marcellus” by Silverio Capparoni (1831/1907)
In the altar there are the bodies of St. Marcellus and S. Foca martyrs
Apsidal basin “Stories of the Life of the Virgin Mary” and “Prophets”, under-arch and “Saints” between the windows by G.B. Ricci (about 1550/1624), retouched by G.B. Polenzani who painted the four saints in the lower part
Wooden choir 1642

On the right “Funeral of St. Philip Benizi”, on the left “Miracle of bread” and on the pillars “Saints” 1642 by Bernardino Gagliardi (1609/1660)
On the right “Funeral Monument of Francesco Dandini de Sylva” 1918 by Ercole Tadolini

Above the altar “Conversion of St. Paul” on slate 1560 by Federico Zuccari (about 1542/1609)
Vault and sides with “Stories of St. Paul” by Taddeo Zuccari (1529/66) begun in 1558 and completed after his death by his younger brother Federico:
On the left “Blinding of Elymas”
On the right “Healing of a cripple”
In the vault “Shipwreck in Malta”, “Martyrdom of St. Paul” and “Resurrection of Eutichio”
Under-arch “Doctors of the Church”
Three round panels with “St. Peter”, “St. Paul” and “St. John”
On the pillars “Two prophets” and “Two Saints”
“The retrospective classicism of Taddeo Zuccari, who in addition to Raphael also looks to the art of Michelangelo and Sebastiano del Piombo, is supported by genuinely manneristic pulses towards a complex structure and a refined calligraphy, just like in the Stories of St. Paul (...). His formal elaboration, however, tends to a clear and refined narrative style” (Enciclopedia Treccani)
Of the six Frangipane busts, the three on the right “Muzio and his sons Roberto and Lelio” 1630/40 are masterpieces of the great Bolognese Alessandro Algardi (1598/1654)
“Algardi was respected and admired in his time as a major rival of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, and was also later considered the most representative and almost the symbol, for sculpture, of the so-called classicist and traditionalist current of the seventeenth century, which was a current of a taste very representative of that century, full of vital energy, of sincere and genuine interests and motives. So his work is to be considered valid by itself, for the intrinsic dignity and quality, even considering the predominant genius of Bernini. Through the important activities of his vast following, his influence was exercised for a long time and throughout the eighteenth century” (Antonia Nava Cellini - Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani Treccani)
The three busts on the left “Antonino and his sons Curzio and Mario” are by an anonymous sixteenth-century sculptor

1762 designed by Zenobio del Rosso
Above the altar “Our Lady of Sorrows” by Pietro Paolo Naldini (1619/91)
On the sides “Sacrifice of Isaac” and “Finding of Moses” 1762 by Domenico Corvi (1721/1803) from Viterbo
Vault “Presentation in the Temple” by Antonio Bicchierai (1688/1766)

On the altar “St. Mary Magdalene” by Giacomo Triga (1674/1746), pupil of Benedetto Luti
On the right “Blessed Gioacchino Piccolomini” by Giuseppe Tommasi (1610/72) from Pesaro
Vault painted about 1550 by Francesco di Michelangelo del Colle, who completed the work begun by the Flemish Lorenzo da Rotterdam

On the altar “Madonna and the Seven Holy Founders of the Servites” by Agostino Masucci (1691/1758)
On the right “Jesus fallen on Golgotha”, on the left “Transportation to the tomb” and lunette with “Crucifix, Our Lady and St. John” by Pietro Paolo Naldini (1619/91)

1954 designed by Arnaldo Brandizzi

1661 walnut wood furniture of the late seventeenth century
Vault “Glory of S. Marcellus” and on the sides “Medallions with Cardinal Virtues” 1690 by the Florentine G.B. Ciocchi
On the back wall “Crucifix” maybe by Antoon Van Dyck (1599/1641)
In a niche “Christian Sarcophagus with Adoration of the Magi and Original Sin” of the fourth century AD

Discovered in 1912. It is among the few remaining in Rome for the ritual with full immersion
The tank is perhaps of the eighth century AD with some remains of the fifth century AD

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