Monday, March 18, 2019


It was built on the section of Capitoline Hill known as ARX, above the TEMPLE OF CAPITOLINE ISIS, next to the TEMPLE OF JUNO MONETA and over a Benedictine monastery of the seventh century
It owes its name to the legend of the fourteenth century about the vision that Augustus had of the Virgin Mary
The Emperor would have had the vision from his room through a hole in a column (the third on the left) of a beautiful woman with a child in her arms, and he would have also heard a voice saying: “This is the altar of the son of God”
It was the Virgin Mary and legend has it that for this reason he decided not to assume control of Rome explicitly
It was originally much smaller and made out only of the current transept facing south
It was rebuilt in its present size in the years 1285/87 maybe by Arnolfo di Cambio (about 1245/1302) for the Franciscan friars and consecrated incomplete in 1291
Restorations in the years 1467/72, 1564 and 1689

Made out of 125 steps. Built in 1348 by Lorenzo di Simone Andreozzi, as the inscription on the left of the door mentions, at the expense of the Roman people as a votive offering after the plague of that year
It was built with marble taken from ancient buildings, maybe the Temple of Quirinus
Maybe it was inaugurated by Cola di Rienzo

The FAÇADE dates back to the thirteenth century

PORTAL 1564 for Alessandro Mattei
On the ground, in front of the portal, tombstones including “Tomb of Flavio Biondo (1392/1463)” historian and humanist, the first one ever to use the term Middle Ages and one of the first to be interested in antiquarian studies, forerunners of archeology
In 1806 the clock on the façade, which since 1412 was the main public clock in Rome, was taken off and was moved to the front of the Senatorial Palace
It is the main church of the Franciscans in Rome being a minor basilica with a cardinal title

1572/80 Flaminio Bolanger with gilding and paintings by Girolamo Siciolante da Sermoneta (1521/80) and Cesare Trapassi for St. Pius V Ghislieri (1566/72)
The entire ceiling was built as a votive offering in thanksgiving for the Christian victory at the Battle of Lepanto against the Muslims

Thirteenth century by members of the Cosmati family. It incorporates fragments of the floor of the ninth century

“Celebratory inscription” of the Roman Senate for Urban VIII Barberini (1623/44) 1634/36 by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598/1680), maybe executed by his brother Luigi Bernini (1612/81)

“Funerary monument of Cardinal Ludovico d'Albret” 1465 the first Roman work of Andrea Bregno (1418/1503)
On the wall very worn out “Tombstone of Giovanni Crivelli” archdeacon of Aquileia d. 1432 by Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi aka Donatello (1386/1466) placed here in 1881


Frescoes of the years 1686/91:
Three by Giovanni Odazzi (1663/1731): “Adoration of the Magi”, “Flight into Egypt” and “Prophet David”
Two by Giuseppe Passeri (1654/1714), favorite pupil of Carlo Maratta: “Death of the Virgin Mary” and “Assumption”
Seven by Fra' Umile da Foligno, who also painted the ovals with “Franciscan Saints”
The last two frescoes on the left are of the years 1801/03 by Father Atanasio da Coriano, filling the space of the organ destroyed by the French during the occupation of Rome in 1798

Inscription A cubicle Augustorum and hole

“Altar of Our Lady of Refuge” beginning 1400 by artists of the Viterbo school

“Tombstone of Aldus magister et Murator” mysterious builder of the church of the end of the thirteenth century

Leaning against one of the pillars “Altar of St. John of Capistrano” 1682 by Francesco Guidotti
St. John of Capistrano drove the Turks from Belgrade in 1456 at the cost of his life, by collecting tens of thousands of volunteers and participating in the attack

Right End Side of the Church

Frescoes “Stories of St. Bernardino” who had lived in the monastery:
In the central wall “St. Bernardino crowned between Sts. Louis of Toulouse and St. Anthony of Padua with, at the top, Christ and cherubim and, in the background, preaching by the Bonfire of the Vanities and the peacemaker intervention between the Bufalini and the Baglioni families”
On the left “Funeral of St. Bernardino with Niccolò Bufalini on left standing”
In the vault “Evangelists”
At the center “Symbol of St. Bernardino” which cost him accusations of heresy and three trials
All works carried out in the years 1482/84 by Bernardino di Betto aka Pinturicchio (1454/1513) for Niccolò Bufalini from Città di Castello in order to celebrate the reestablished peace between his family and the Baglioni of Perugia thanks to the mediation of St. Bernardino of Siena
“In vain with previous artists, or with other art schools, we would look for (...) a larger and more harmonious ceremony than the Funeral of St. Bernardino, the background of a town square as noble as this and where one would feel more comfortable to breathe at ease” (Bernard Berenson)
Restored for the first time in the years 1818/29 by Vincenzo Camuccini (1771/1844)

On the altar “Pietà” about 1570 by Marco Pino aka Marco da Siena (about 1525/87)
Frescoes on the vault “Stories of the Passion of Christ” and on the walls, on the left “Deposition” and on the right “Christ in the tomb” about 1585/90 by Cristoforo Roncalli aka Pomarancio (1552/1626)
“This chapel met with greater favor among his contemporaries than the other chapel painted by Roncalli in Aracoeli with stories of St. Paul. The decorative division was enhanced and the nagging heaviness of the frescoes of the other chapel was mitigated” (Hermann Voss)
“Busts of Paolo Mattei (d. 1592) and of his wife Tuzia Colonna“ maybe sculpted by Tommaso della Porta (about 1550/1606)
STATUE OF GREGORY XIII Boncompagni (1572/85) by Pietro Paolo Olivieri (1551/99) moved here in 1876 from the Senatorial Palace of Capitoline Hill with the other two statues of popes

Painting on slate “St. Jerome Penitent” about 1572 by Giovanni De Vecchi (about 1537/1615) discovered after an altarpiece by Franz Von Rohden was stolen
Paintings 1875 by Ludovico Seitz (1844/1908), which replaced the worn out decorations by De Vecchi
“Tomb of Mario Delfini (d. 1573), and of his son Gentile Delfini (d. 1559)” formerly owners of the chapel

Altar consisting of “Three fragments of a parapet” of the third century AD
“Wooden Crucifix” of the seventeenth century
On the right wall “Transfiguration” about 1573/75 by Girolamo Siciolante da Sermoneta (1521/80) a pupil of Perino del Vaga, for the Armentieri family
On the left wall “Front of sarcophagus” of the third century AD embedded in the wall
In the lunettes “Agony in the Garden” and “Flagellation” by artists of the Roman school of the eighteenth century

1564/65 Jacopo Del Duca (about 1520/1604)
Above the altar “St. Matthew and the Angel with the Virgin Mary of Loreto” by an unknown seventeenth-century artist
Four oil paintings on the walls “Stories of St. Matthew”: on the right “Martyrdom of St. Matthew” and “Prayer of St. Matthew”, on the left “Call of St. Matthew” and “St. Matthew raises the son of the king of Ethiopia from the dead” 1586/89 by Girolamo Muziano (1532/92)
On the right “Funerary memorial of Carlo Teodoro Antici” 1852 by Alessandro Massimiliano Laboureur (1796-1800/1861), son of Francesco Massimiliano Laboureur
Carlo Teodoro Antici married in 1803 the last descendant of the Matteis and added his name to that of the ancient Roman family

1675/86 G.B. Contini (1641/1723)
Marble group “Ecstasy of St. Peter of Alcantara” 1682/84 masterpiece by Michel Maille Michele Maglia (active in Rome, second half of the seventeenth century). He also sculpted the two ovals on the side walls: on the left “St. Stephen” and on the right “St. Ranieri”
St. Peter of Alcantara is the patron saint of Brazil
In the vault stuccos by Francesco Cavallini (active 1672/1703) and paintings by Marco Antonio Napolitano
“Maille was strictly adhering to the style of his master Ercole Ferrata. The convincing spirituality of the figures and the free transition between sculpture and space make this a legitimate descendant of the Cornaro Chapel by Bernini” (Rudolf Wittkower)
Above the altar “S. Diego heals a blind man” about 1610 by Giovanni De Vecchi (about 1537/1615)
On the walls “Miracles of St. Diego” by Vespasiano Strada (1582/1622)
Frescoes on vault and lunettes “Life of St. Diego” by Avanzino Nucci (1552/1629)

Outer lunette with medieval mosaic “Madonna and Child with Angels” possibly by Jacopo Torriti (active 1270/1300)
“Color triumphs: the intense blue of the background becomes clearer within the clypeus and brings out the deep blue hues, the pearls and the mantle of the Madonna. In virtue of its peculiar combination of color tones, the work gets a unique volumetric thickness” (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)
In the inner side fragments of frescoes of the end of the thirteenth century by an anonymous artist follower of Pietro Cavallini

On the right “Tomb of Cecchino Bracci” by Francesco Amadori (known since 1530/d. 1555), designed by Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475/1564)
Cecchino Bracci died 15 years old: he was maybe loved by the great master, judging by what he wrote in a poem: Cecchino... to whom I brought grace in bed, whom I embraced, and in whom my soul continues to live
On the left “Tomb of Pietro Manzi” maybe by Andrea Contucci aka Andrea Sansovino (1460/1529)

Frescoes of the thirteenth century including “Virgin Mary and Child between the two St. Johns” by an unknown Roman painter from the circle of Pietro Cavallini found during the restorations of the years 2000/03
“The discovery may even confirm the intuition of Federico Zeri, according to whom the frescoes of Assisi are neither by Giotto nor by any Florentine painter but, if not by Cavallini himself, by members of a Roman school headed by the latter and by Torriti, earlier than the Tuscan school (if not even superior considering it would have been responsible for the cycle of Assisi), extreme thesis, this one, which would imply a review of the origins of Italian painting” (Laura Russo)
On the sides canvas “Miracles of St. Paschal Baylon” by the Viennese Daniele Seiter (1649/1705)
Stuccos by Francesco Cavallini (active 1672/1703)

1727 Filippo Raguzzini (1680/1771)
Above the altar “Ecstasy of St. Francis” by Francesco Trevisani (1656/1746)
On the left wall “Tomb of Luca Savelli” with a Roman sarcophagus underneath and on the right “Tomb of his wife Giovanna Aldobrandeschi” (parents of Honorius IV Savelli 1285/87, whose statue was placed in the sixteenth century above his mother's grave) about 1287 maybe by Arnolfo di Cambio (about 1245/1302). He was definitely the sculptor of the small statue of the Madonna with Child

Architecture and painting by Antonio Gherardi (1638/1702)
Paintings in the vault of the room before the chapel “Immaculate Conception and Saints” by Giuseppe Ghezzi (1634/1721)
In the adjacent CHAPEL OF St. ROSE OF VITERBO mosaic embedded in the left wall “Madonna and Child with Saints and Donor” of the end of the thirteenth century maybe by Jacopo Torriti (active 1270/1300)


“Two ambos” about 1200 by Lorenzo di Cosma and his son Jacopo
On the altars on either side “Putti holding scrolls” by Giovanni De Vecchi
In the spandrels of the arch gigantic “Augustus” and “Sybil” about 1686 by Giuseppe Passeri (1654/1714)
At the center of the vault “Virgin Mary with angels playing musical instruments” about 1568 masterpiece by Nicolò Martinelli aka il Trometta (about 1540/1611) for Pius IV Medici (1559/65
Pius IV had the previous apse demolished with the masterpiece “Apparition of the Virgin Mary to Augustus” by Pietro de' Cerroni aka Pietro Cavallini (about 1240/about 1325). It was considered his best work in Rome, according to Giorgio Vasari
“While the general layout and the composition of the two stories, as well as the oval format, are again totally influenced by Zuccari, the clear and lively colors are rather reminiscent of Barocci, who must have held Trometta in high esteem” (Hermann Voss)
Originally there was the “Madonna of Foligno” by Raphael (now in the Vatican Museums) which was removed at the behest of Pius IV Medici (1559/65) and it was replaced with the “Icon of Our Lady” maybe of the eleventh century, formerly in the Chapel of St. Elena

Left End Side of the Church

Above the altar “Virgin Mary in Glory with Sts. Gregory, Francis and the souls in Purgatory” 1771 by the Calabrian Vincenzo Milione (about 1732/1805)
Under the altar body of the Blessed John of Triora martyred in China in 1816
In the first corner to the left “Tomb of Roman the composer Emilio de' Cavalieri (1550/1602)” one of the main inventors of opera
“In Rome, he set up music for the Lent services of the Confraternity of the Crucifix in S. Marcello (1578/1584), characterized by a humanistic spirit somehow in contradiction with the Roman musical forms of the time. In 1589 in Florence, once appointed superintendent of the arts at the Medici court, he found himself working among the humanists, poets and musicians of the Camerata Fiorentina. (...) In 1590 he produced - first of any modern musicians - a representative music consistently 'monodic' with his pastoral fables The Satyr and The Despair of Filenus, now lost. (...) However, at that point, the monody representative of the Florentine Camerata had definitely started, and Cavalieri in Rome (1597/1600) could resume, under the most favorable conditions, his work of renewal. In February 1600, the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in S. Maria in Vallicella staged his Rappresentazione di Anima et di Corpo, a sort of spiritual melodrama, not devoid of references to the medieval 'Devotions' (...) where a different representative style was created, about eight months before this style would be established definitively in Florence with Euridice by Jacopo Peri” (Enciclopedia Treccani)
On the left wall “Tomb with bust of one G.B. Cavalieri” who died young in 1508

1605 small temple above the altar built by Augustus after the prophecy of the Sibyl, with the tomb of St. Helena, mother of Constantine

Olive wood statue from the Gethsemane garden, copy of the original stolen in 1994
Inserted in the wall “Tombstone of Catherine of Bosnia” d. 1478, Franciscan tertiary who died in 1478 in Rome, where she had fled after the victory of the Turks
On the left
“Monument of Alessandro Crivelli” by Marcello Venusti (about 1512/79) with relief “Trinity” by Jacopo Del Duca (about 1520/1604) and portrait on slate by Marcello Venusti
“Monument of Cardinal Matteo d'Acquaviva” maybe by Giovanni di Cosma with painting maybe by Pietro de' Cerroni aka Pietro Cavallini (about 1240/about 1325)
STATUE OF LEO X Medici (1513/21) about 1520 by Domenico Aimo aka Varignana (about 1460-70/1539)

Restored in 1613 by Onorio Longhi (1568/1619)
Seventeenth-century frescoes with “Life of the Virgin Mary” and “Virtue” by Marzio Colantonio Ganassini (active in Rome at the beginning of the seventeenth century)
“Tombstone and epitaph of Felice De Fredis” the noble of low lineage who fell in 1506 in a pit of his own vineyard on Opium Hill and found the sculptural group of the Laocoon
His wife ordered this writing on the tomb: He deserved immortality for his virtues and for having found the divine, almost alive statue of Laocoon that you can admire in the Vatican

“The canvas is one of the masterpieces of Benefial which sums up all the brilliance of his invention inspired by the Emilian Classicism, in particular the emotional lyricism of Guercino and also fed by acquaintances of the Francophile taste of Benedetto Luti, Bianchi and later Subleyras. The male nude is an absolute first for the studies on this topic by Batoni and Corvi and the figure of Margaret, theatrical and rigorous, combines perfectly historical description with religious fervor” (Anna Lo Bianco)
On the left “Death of St. Margaret of Cortona” 1732 masterpieces by Marco Benefial (1684/1764)
“It is important to emphasize the link of his painting with the element of the truth of the narrative as well as the truth of the image (sources report that he had somebody reading texts relevant to the subjects he was painting). (...) In the Death of St. Margaret prevails the description of the poverty of the interior with the detail, which is frequent in his paintings, of the herring bone tiles on the floor. (...) The two paintings for the Aracoeli church are some of the best works of Benefial, representing very clearly the less academic aspects in his painting style” (Lorenza Mochi Onori)
Altar with columns of reef breccia 1660/72 designed by Carlo Rainaldi (1611/91)
On the right “Tomb of Luigi Marini (d. 1838) and of his first wife Settimia Maffei (d. 1822)” by Alessandro Massimiliano Laboureur (1796-1800/1861), son of Francesco Massimiliano Laboureur
On the left “Tomb of Barbara Clarelli” d. 1870, Luigi Marini's second wife

Above the altar “Ascension” about 1584 by Girolamo Muziano (1532/92)
On the walls “Virtues” and on the lunettes “St. Paul establishing a congregation of Christians” and “Ascension” about 1582/84 by Nicolò Martinelli aka il Trometta (about 1540/1611)
Busts of “Funerary monuments of Vittoria Orsini Frangipane Della Tolfa and Camillo Pardo Orsini“ maybe by Martino Longhi the Elder (1534/91) or his son Onorio Longhi (1568/1619)

On the altar “St. Paul” about 1584 by Girolamo Muziano
Frescoes on the sides, on the left “Preaching of St. Paul” and on the right “Beheading of St. Paul” and vault with very damaged “Paradise” 1584/86 by Cristoforo Roncalli aka Pomarancio (1552/1626) who was also in charge of the stuccos
“His first work of importance (...). Both paintings have a great momentum in the composition, with strong bodies, rather massive and with energetic movements, with a sumptuous and rhythmically felt representation of the drapery. (...) The decapitation, structured in an even more impressive and effective way than the Preaching, has an effect even too heavy in its colors, like all works of Roncalli (even more so with his paintings on wood), and it is also very damaged by the fact that the colors over time were darkened” (Hermann Voss)
“Funerary monument of Filippo Della Valle” 1494 maybe by Andrea Brioso aka il Riccio

“Holy Family appears to the Blessed Caterina Sforza” 1730 by Francesco Trevisani (1656/1746)
On the left “Blessed Andrea Conti heals a possessed woman” about 1724 by Francesco Bertosi (active 1690/1740), a pupil of Trevisani

1572. It was modified at the end of the nineteenth century by the construction works for the Victor Emmanuel Monument
“St. Anthony of Padua and two donors” only trace left of the frescoes of about 1454/58 by Benozzo di Lese aka Benozzo Gozzoli (1420/97)
In the vault “Paradise” and in the corbels “Sts. Agnes, Cecilia, Frances of Rome and the Blessed Ludovica Albertoni” about 1582 by Nicolò Martinelli aka il Trometta (about 1540/1611)
Oil paintings on the wall “Stories of St. Anthony of Padua” by an anonymous seventeenth-century artist, maybe Charles Mellin (about 1597-1600/1649)
STATUE OF PAUL III Farnese (1534/49) 1543 maybe by Guglielmo Della Porta (1515/77)

1572. It was modified at the end of the nineteenth century by the construction works for the Victor Emmanuel Monument
Since 1833 the nativity scene with wooden statues of the eighteenth and nineteenth century in this chapel is famous all over the world

1550/51 complex cycle of frescoes “Immaculate Conception” 1555 by Francesco Pichi with the analogy Mary-Eve

“Martyrdom of St. John del Prado d. 1636” about 1730 by Francesco Bertosi (active 1690/1740) and an otherwise unknown Paolo Mattei
According to the somewhat improbable tradition St. John del Prado was scourged, stabbed, hit by arrows, burned, stoned and clubbed at the same time!

“Holy Family known as the Madonna of the she-cat” copy maybe by Avanzino Nucci (1552/1629) from the original of about 1523 by Giulio Pippi aka Giulio Romano (1499/1546), now in the Museo di Capodimonte in Naples
“St. Dominic” maybe by Simon Vouet (1590/1649)

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