Friday, March 29, 2019


Originally built in the twelfth century
It was known as S. Maria De Publico maybe for the nearby PORTICUS MINUCIA or, more likely, for the nearby VILLA PUBLICA rebuilt here by Domitian (81/96) after replacing the original one (destroyed by the Campus Martius fire in the year 80 AD) with the Diribitorium
In the thirteenth century it came under the patronage of the Santacroce Publicola family who claimed a somewhat unlikely descent from the Roman gens (extended family) of the Valerii Publicolae
Completely rebuilt 1642/43 by Giovanni Antonio De Rossi (1616/95) for Monsignor Marcello Santacroce, who conceived it as a private chapel of the Santacroce family, whose symbol was the pair of pelicans represented also in the façade
Restored in 1727 for Prince Scipione Publicola Santacroce
The fresco on the FAÇADE, “Assumption of the Virgin Mary” by Giovanni Francesco Grimaldi (1606/80) from Bologna, has almost disappeared

“Tomb of Prince Scipione Publicola Santacroce” 1749 by G.B. Maini (1690/1752) with ornamental elements executed in 1750 by Tommaso Righi (1727/1802)

Altarpiece “St. Helena adores the Cross miraculously found on Mount Calvary” 1644 by Raffaello Vanni (1587/1673) from Siena
Helena was the name of the mother of the patron Marcello Santacroce, and it was furthermore believed that the merit of carrying the Cross to Rome was of members of the Santacroce family

Altarpiece “Birth of the Virgin Mary” 1644 by Raffaello Vanni
“The event of the birth of the Virgin Mary is represented with particular effectiveness by making a interesting fusion of images with a highly symbolic meaning, as the angel holding a crown of stars on the head of the fledgling Virgin Mary, and the scene of domestic life that revolves around St. Anna, lying on bed after giving birth” (Alfredo Marchionne Gunter)
Polychrome marble altar table made in 1727
On the right “Four portraits in oil on copper of lay members of the Santacroce family”
On the left “Four portraits of clergy members of the Santacroce family” 1680 by Alessandro Grimaldi son of Giovanni Francesco Grimaldi
The first portrait of clergyman on the right is Monsignor Prospero Publicola Santacroce, the one who introduced the use of tobacco in Rome from Portugal where he was nuncio. Tobacco was then called Santacroce Grass

Altarpiece “St. Francis in Meditation” 1655 by Giovanni Francesco Grimaldi (1606/80) a copy of a lost original by Annibale Carracci

“Tomb of the spouses Antonio Publicola Santacroce and Girolama Nari” about 1709 by Giovanni Francesco Zannoli who was inspired by the Bolognetti monuments in the Church of Jesus and Mary
Busts by Lorenzo Ottoni (1648/1736) with “Winged Death” by Andrea Fucigna (about 1660/1711)
Below “Confessional “ 1708/09 by Giovenale Gauthier
“Among other burials there is also the one of the beautiful Giulia Santacroce, who was said to be the mistress of Cardinal de Bernis. The cardinal would have first met her during a reception at which she showed up with an ample cleavage emblazoned with a cross of diamonds, and he would have rather boldly said: “Princess, I do not know if I should venerate more the Cross or the Calvary...” (Willy Pocino)

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