Tuesday, April 9, 2019


The original church was built in the eighth century above the TEMPLE OF MINERVA FROM CHALCIDICE, on the site of the present church of S. Marta, and it was destroyed after five centuries
It was rebuilt from 1280 until mid-1300s for the Dominicans in this place, a short distance from the original site, while retaining the same name
In the early sixteenth century Giuliano Giamberti aka Giuliano da Sangallo (1445/1516) modified the presbytery
In the beginning of the seventeenth century Carlo Maderno (1556/1629) enlarged the apse, coated the interior and modified the FAÇADE
1848/55 Father Girolamo Bianchedi restored the interior in Gothic style with Neo-Gothic frescoes and decorations by Bernardino Riccardi, Carlo Gavardini (1811/69) and Tommaso Oreggia
The busts of Dominican friars are by Pietro Gagliardi (1809/90), Filippo Baldi and Raffaele Casnedi
In the church there is a huge number of tombs of nobles and prelates especially Tuscan ones, having this been the church of the Florentines before the construction of S. Giovanni dei Fiorentini
Here is buried the great painter and architect Antonio Gherardi (1638/1702)
In the adjacent convent in the PALAZZO DELLA MINERVA (Minerva's Palace) the ceremony of abjuration used to take place, imposed to condemned heretics and schismatics by the court of the Holy Inquisition

To the left of the entrance, in the lower part, “Tomb of Virginia Pucci Ridolfi” d. 1568 by an anonymous Tuscan sculptor 
To the left of the entrance, in the upper part, “Bust of Lesa Deti” mother of Pope Clement VIII Aldobrandini (1592/1605) maybe by Ippolito Buzio (1578/1659) 
On either side of the entrance, to the left “Tomb of Diotisalvi Neroni” d. 1482 and, to the right, “Tomb of G.B. Galletti” about 1554

Right Nave

1636 for Cardinal Scipione Caffarelli Borghese (1577/1633)
Completely renovated in 1724 by Filippo Raguzzini (1680/1771)
Above the altar “Noli Me Tangere” by Marcello Venusti (about 1512/79)
On the left “Bust of Ladislao d'Aquino” titular Cardinal of S. Maria sopra Minerva, by Francesco Mochi (1580/1654)

Above the altar “St. Louis Bertrand” 1673 by G.B. Gaulli aka Baciccio (1639/1709)
Above “St. Dominic” by an unknown artist of the seventeenth century
In the vault “Stories of St. Dominic” by Gaspare Celio (1571/1640)

“Portrait of Natale Moncardi” by Pietro Tenerani (1789/1869)

Above the altar “St. Rose of Lima”, walls and vault with “Stories of St. Rose of Lima” by Lazzaro Baldi (about 1624/1703)

“Funerary Memory of Carlo Emanuele Vizzani” 1661 by Domenico Guidi (1625/1701)

Above the altar “St. Peter Martyr” about 1688 by Bonaventura Lamberti (about 1653/1721)
Side walls with paintings “Adoration of the Shepherds” and “Resurrection” and lunettes with “Sibyls” and “Prophets” by Battista Franco (1498/1561) 
Vault “Scenes from the Life of Christ” and monochrome under the arch and pillars with “Symbols of the Evangelists” and “Scenes of the Old Testament” by Girolamo Muziano (1532/92)

“Bust of Francesco Neri” by Giulio Mazzoni (about 1525/after 1589)

Restored 1600 by Carlo Maderno (1556/1629)
Above the altar “Annunciation and Cardinal Juan de Torquemada with the Virgin Mary handing the dowry to a group of girls dressed in white” 1500 last masterpiece by Antonio Aquili aka Antoniazzo Romano (about 1435-40/1508)
“The painting was meant to celebrate the charity role of the brotherhood and also to remember the founder, the Dominican Cardinal Torquemada. The painter took leave from his city with a painting of a strong archaic footprint but not without openings to the refined elegance of Florentine painting of the end of the century. Figures differ hierarchically, as it was used in the Middle Ages, and the Cardinal and the three girls are inserted in the space between the angel and the Virgin Mary, in their shrunken condition of human beings, but nevertheless related to the supernatural event by the bag with money that the Virgin Mary gives to one of the girls. With this work of extraordinary quality and of remarkable formal results, Antoniazzo ends his work as a painter on board and from now on his role would become increasingly marginal in the Roman art scene” (Anna Cavallaro)
On the left “Tomb of Urban VIII Castagna (1590)” 1613 by Ambrogio Buonvicino (about 1552/1622). His was the shortest papacy in history, twelve days only! 
The frescos on the vault and lunettes with “Assumption and Crowning of the Virgin Mary with Angels” are one of the last works by Cesare Nebbia (1536/1614)

1600/11 Giacomo Della Porta (1533/1602) replaced upon his death by Carlo Maderno (1556/1629) for Clement VIII Aldobrandini (1592/1605)
Above the altar “Institution of the Eucharist” 1609 by Federico Fiori aka Barocci (1535/1612)
“In the glories of angels by Barocci, in his sentimental abandon to all the secondary circumstances of biblical events, in his landscape painting, one recognizes, in a genuine and spontaneous form, the religious sensibilities of the average Italian, who, in order to portray and make understood extravagant concepts, cannot do without the idea of supernatural in the stories of saints. (...) From a political and cultural point of view it is the automatic reaction of the Roman popular spirit to the advance of Germanism, because this is the way in which the South understood instinctively the Reformation movement with its mystic of the spirit” (Hermann Voss)
Niches on the right “St. Sebastian” by Nicolas Cordier (1567/1612), on the left (maybe) “St. Clement Pope” by Ippolito Buzio (1578/1659)
“Funerary monuments of the Aldobrandini family” Silvestro and his wife Lesa Deti, father and mother of Clement VIII, work by Giacomo Della Porta and his collaborator Girolamo Rainaldi (1570/1655)
Statues of “Silvestro Aldobrandini” and “Lesa Deti” by Nicolas Cordier
Statues on the right “Prudence” by Ippolito Buzio and “Justice” by Giovanni Antonio Parracca aka Valsoldo (?/1642-46)
Statue on the left “Charity” by Nicolas Cordier and “Religion” by Camillo Mariani
“Angels” high above the altar by Ambrogio Buonvicino (about 1552/1622), on the right by Stefano Maderno (1560/1636), on the left by Camillo Mariani
“Della Porta and Maderno were nothing more than the first among equals in the coordination of the work. Group works became the rule in the period from Sixtus V until the end of the pontificate of Paul V, but the artists, though engaged in the same work, followed often very different lines” (Rudolf Wittkower)
“Funerary monument of Cardinal Francesco Bertazzoli” Bishop of Palestrina by Rinaldo Rinaldi (1793/1873)

Above the altar “Sts. Raymond of Peñafort and Charles” maybe by Nicola Magni
On the right “Tomb of Bishop Juan Díaz de Coca” about 1473 by Andrea Bregno (1418/1503) with fresco “Christ the Judge with Angels” by Antonio Aquili aka Antoniazzo Romano (about 1435-40/1508)
“A witness to the original appearance of the majority of Roman funerary monuments of the fifteenth century for its integrity is the tomb of the Castilian Bishop Juan Díaz de Coca, where the fresco with the deceased bishop kneeling to the left of the sarcophagus on which rests, on opposite side, the bishop's miter with ribbons hanging in admirable perspective, is a unique insert by the Roman painter within the tomb by Bregno. The painting, recently confirmed to have been painted by Aquili, shows an early interest for landscapes - here rendered with a middle hill sprinkled with sparse bushes - that will find more space in the works of the eighties and nineties. Impressive is also the extraordinary architecture in the upper part, open on a naturalistic blue sky painted on top of the monument, according to perspective solutions already influenced by Melozzo” (Anna Cavallaro)
On the left “Tomb of Bishop Benedetto Soranzo” 1495 maybe by Andrea Bregno

“Sts. Agatha and Lucy with breasts and eyes on the trays” by Girolamo Siciolante da Sermoneta (1521/80)

Right Transept

Entrance arch maybe by Mino da Fiesole (1429/84), Andrea del Verrocchio (1435/88) and Giuliano da Maiano
On the right “Triumph of St. Thomas Aquinas and miracles of the Crucifix” 1488/93 by Filippino Lippi (about 1457/1504) for the Neapolitan Cardinal Oliviero Carafa
“Since Vasari's time, Lippi's Roman frescoes were considered a turning point in his work and, without doubt, the evident antiquarian taste is the most obvious aspect of this change. During his Roman years Lippi devoted himself assiduously to the exploration and study of ancient monuments (...). Lippi retraced and actualized what Donatello had experienced some fifty years before and his antiquarian Roman experience was carried out into the scope of well-identified Florentine tradition (Parlato, 1990). Such interest was linked to his ability to build through the ancient ornamentation an emblematic repertoire referring both to Carafa's family coat of arms and to 'comments' of the individual scenes. (...) The search for unity between painting and architecture together with the tight monumentality of composition is another innovative aspect of the frescoes of S. Maria sopra Minerva. The Triumph of St. Thomas Aquinas is designed with obvious theatrical gimmicks, even more manifest in the famous preparatory drawing (London, British Museum), for example in suggesting a link between the painted scene and the space of the chapel, prospectively amplified in the turbulent Assumption of the Virgin” (Enrico Parlato - Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani Treccani)
“The individuality, the great value that Andrea del Castagno used to exalt in the historical man, is reduced here to singularity, a freak of nature, even the architecture here becomes a natural oddity” (Giulio Carlo Argan)
In the vault “Sibyls” by Raffaellino del Garbo (about 1466/1524)
On the left “Tomb of Pope Paul IV Carafa (1555/59)” by Pirro Ligorio (about 1513/83)

“Tomb of Guglielmo Durand” 1296 by Giovanni di Cosma (about 1230/about 1295)

Above the altar “St. Peter presents five blessed to the Virgin Mary” by Carlo Maratta (1625/1713)
In the lunette “Glory of the Trinity” 1671/72 by G.B. Gaulli aka Baciccio (1639/1709)
Busts of “Lorenzo Altieri”, father of Pope Clement X Altieri (1670/76), and “Giovanni Altieri”, brother of Clement X by Cosimo Fancelli (1620/88)

Above the altar “Virgin Mary of the Rosary” by Michelangelo Cerruti (1663/1748)
On the right “Tomb of Cardinal Domenico Capranica” by artists of the school of Andrea Bregno (1418/1503)
Frescoes on the walls “Stories of St. Catherine of Siena” 1578/79 by Giovanni De Vecchi (about 1537/1615)
In the vault “Mysteries of the Rosary” 1575 by Marcello Venusti (about 1512/79) and on the right “Crown of Thorns” by Carlo Saraceni (1579/1620)
The body of St. Catherine of Siena was kept in this chapel from 1430 to 1855
In the upper part ORGAN 1630 for Cardinal Scipione Caffarelli Borghese (1577/1633) decorated by Paolo Marucelli (1594/1649)


Marble statue “St. John the Baptist” 1858 by Giuseppe Obici (1807/78)

“Sarcophagus of St. Catherine of Siena (1347/80)” 1430 maybe by Isaia da Pisa (active 1447/64) or, more likely, by an unknown Roman marble sculptor
Inside there is the body of St. Catherine of Siena from which various parts were removed over the centuries to be worshiped as relics: 
The head and the thumb of the right hand are in the Basilica of St. Dominic in Siena. The head was severed in 1381, the year after her death 
In the monastery of the church of S. Maria del Rosario a Monte Mario is preserved the relic of the left hand with the sign of the stigmata 
The left foot is preserved in the church of Sts. John and Paul in Venice 
A rib is the Sanctuary of St. Catherine in Astenet in Belgium
In the niches at the sides of the sarcophagus “Four Cardinal Virtues” painted in about 1858 by Francesco Podesti (1800/95)

They were designed by Antonio Cordini aka Antonio da Sangallo the Younger (1483/1546) with prophets and reliefs 1541 by Bartolomeo Bandinelli aka Baccio Bandinelli (1488/1560)
On the left “Leo X Medici (1513/21)” with statue by Raffaello da Montelupo (about 1505/57)
It is the first time that a pope is depicted seated, blessing and with the keys in his hand
On the right his cousin “Clement VII Medici (1523/34)” 1536/40 with statue by Giovanni Lippi aka Nanni di Baccio Bigio (about 1513/68)
Tombstones in the floor of the humanist Cardinal Pietro Bembo d. 1547 and Cardinal Girolamo Casanate d. 1700, founder of the Casanatense Library

“Statue of the Risen Christ” 1519 by Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475/1564) executed in Florence in 1521 and remodeled in Rome first by Pietro Urbani and later by Federico Frizzi
The band of gilded bronze is not original and it was applied to hide the nakedness. It was also applied a “shoe” of metal in the right foot, to protect the marble that used to be kissed by the faithful
“After the great Greek sculpture, Michelangelo was the first to fully understand the identity of the nudity and the first to apply it to the great art of figures. Before him, nudity had been studied for scientific purposes, and just to help in designing the robed figure. Michelangelo saw that it was an end in itself, and an essential object of his art. For him, nudity and art were synonyms” (Bernard Berenson)

Left Transept

On the right
“Tomb of Cardinal Domenico Pimentel” about 1654 design by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598/1680) with statues executed by Ercole Ferrata (1610 /86) (Cardinal, Faith and Wisdom), Giovanni Antonio Mari (Justice) and Ercole Antonio Raggi (1624 /86) (Charity)
To the right of the tomb of Cardinal Pimentel “Tomb of Latino and Matteo Orsini” two monuments of the fourteenth century assembled together in 1650
“Tomb of Cardinal Carlo Bonelli” 1674 by Carlo Rainaldi (1611/91) with statues by Ercole Ferrata (1610/86) (“Eternity holding a putto with round portrait in relief of the cardinal”) and pupils:
Giovanni Francesco De Rossi (active 1640/77) (“Prudence” and “Justice”), Filippo Carcani (active 1670/91) (“Charity”), Michel Maille aka Michele Maglia (active in Rome in the second half of the seventeenth century) (“Religion”) and Francesco Aprile (?/1685) (“Putti” in alto)

On the left
“Tomb of Cardinal Michele Bonelli” nephew of St. Pius V Ghislieri (1566/72) carried out in 1611 from a project by Giacomo Della Porta (1533/1602) with statues sculpted in 1604:
“Cardinal Michele Bonelli” by Giacomo Longhi Silla (known after 1568/d. 1619), on the right “Prudence” by Stefano Maderno (1560/1636) and on the left “Religion” by Pompeo Ferrucci (about 1566/1637)

On the floor
“Tombstone of Guido di Pietro, aka Fra' Giovanni da Fiesole, aka (also) Fra Angelico (about 1395/1455)” 1455 by Isaia da Pisa (active 1447/64) rearranged in 1979 by Mario Paniconi (1904/73) and Giulio Pediconi (1906/99)
The Dominican monk Fra Angelico died in a nearby convent. He is known as Beato Angelico (Blessed Angelic) in Italian
He was actually proclaimed blessed only by Pope John Paul II in 1984. However he was described as “Beato” soon after his death both for the emotional devoutness of his paintings, and for his human qualities

Above the altar “Virgin Mary and Child” workshop of Fra' Giovanni da Fiesole aka Fra Angelico (about 1395/1455)
On the left “Tomb of Giovanni Arberini” of the fifteenth century with Roman sarcophagus maybe by Agostino di Duccio (1418/about 1481) or Mino da Fiesole (1429/84)

1725 Filippo Raguzzini (1680/1771)
On the right “Monument of Pope Benedict XIII Orsini (1724/30)” 1730 by Carlo Marchionni (1702/86) with statues “Pope” and “Purity” by Pietro Bracci (1700/73), “Humility” by Bartolomeo Pincellotti (active since 1735/d. 1740)
Front of sarcophagus “Roman Council chaired by Benedict XIII Orsini” by Carlo Marchionni
“The pope is bare-headed, bent on one knee and he is facing the altar: the model had been anticipated 60 years earlier by Bernini in the tomb of Alexander VII, although it had not been followed in any of the papal tombs later. But whereas the kneeling pope by Bernini shows an unshaken faith, an attitude of prayer almost impersonal and eternal, Bracci sculpted his Benedict XIII as a man of less strong constitution, who seems to be aware of the tribulations of the human heart and the fragility of the existence of man” (Rudolf Wittkower)
Frescoes in the vault by Carlo Roncalli
On the left “Statue of the Virgin Mary, Jesus and St. John the Baptist” by Francesco Grassia (active in the seventeenth century)

Above the altar “Virgin Mary with Child and St. Hyacinth” 1598 by Ottavio Leoni (1578/1630)
To the left of the altar “Tomb of Andrea Bregno (1418/1503)” about 1506 maybe by Luigi Capponi (active end of 1400s/beginning of 1500s)
ORGAN in the upper part 1613

Left Nave

1733. Above the altar “St. Pius V raises the cross after the victory of Lepanto” by Andrea Procaccini (1671/1734)
On the right “St. Pius V” 1672 by Lazzaro Baldi (about 1624/1703)
On the left “Assumption of the Virgin Mary” by Lazzaro Baldi and faldstool (or folding chair for the clergy) that used to belong to St. Pius V
In the vault frescoes by Michelangelo Cerruti (1663/1748)

“Monument of Ottaviano Ubaldini Gherardesca” with cherubs by Giuliano Finelli (1602/53), maybe his first work

“Funerary Monument of Maria Raggi”, Dominican sister, about 1647 by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598/1680)
“It is above all the idea, the concept, to be new and brilliant. The tomb of Maria Raggi contains a fabric with multiple layers of meanings. It looks like the cloth is blown away to reveal the portrait of the dead woman. But the portrait is also an appearance, carried aloft by putti and her soul must have been floating in the sky. Bernini does conjure a visionary similarity and petrifies the evanescent. He created such iconoclastic images not to shock, but to attract the viewer to the deep meaning of his work. Portraits, memorials, devotional images, heavenly revelations: Bernini blends these disparate genres into one: no matter what mood we approach this tomb, one will eventually experience them all in our real life” (Howard Hibbard)
1596. Above the altar “St. James the Greater” by Marcello Venusti (about 1512/79)
“He himself, who had been the most faithful heir of Michelangelo, translating into valuable and approachable forms the troubled thoughts of the master, in the last years of activity he was able to find his Lombard roots, keeping away, just like Girolamo Muziano, from any theatricality to focus on results of absorbed severity and intense naturalism. This St. James, so awkward and imposing not to be able to find a comfortable accommodation in the niche behind him, seems as if he just popped out of a painting by Moretto from Brescia, with that good-natured air and those peasant clothes” (Vincenzo Farinella)
On the walls “Funerary monuments of Maria Colonna (on the right) and Livia and Carlotta Lante della Rovere (on the left)” by Pietro Tenerani (1789/1869)

Above the altar “St. Vincent Ferrer at the Council of Constance” 1584 by Bernardo Castello (about 1557/1629)

“Funerary monument of Giovanni Vigevano” 1630 by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598/1680)

“Funerary monument of Fabio and Ippolito De Amicis” by Pietro Berrettini aka Pietro da Cortona (1597/1669)

Above the altar “Redeemer” maybe by Pietro Vannucci aka Pietro Perugino (about 1450/1523)
On the right statue “St. Sebastian” maybe by Mino da Fiesole (1429/84) or Michele Marini
On the left statue “St. John the Baptist” 1602/03 by Ambrogio Buonvicino (about 1552/1622)

Altarpiece “St. John the Baptist” and frescoes on the vault dating back to the beginning of the seventeenth century by Francesco Nappi (about 1565/1630) in collaboration with Agostino Tassi (1578/1644)
Busts and funerary monuments of the Naro family including “Orazio Naro and Maria Giulia Cenci” and, behind pews, on the left “Cardinal Gregorio Naro” d. 1634 and on the right “G.B. Naro” by Giacomo Antonio Fancelli (1619/71), the sculptor of the Statue of the Nile River in the Fountain of the Four Rivers in Piazza Navona, with his brother Cosimo Fancelli (1620/88)
“The stiff and iconic portrait of G.B. Naro utterly fails to match the refined quality of the modeling that characterizes the bust of the vigorous praying prelate, Cardinal Gregorio Naro, completed in 1642 by Giacomo Antonio Fancelli, designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini” (Alfredo Marchionne Gunter)
“Funerary monument of the archaeologist Raffaello Fabretti” about 1700 with bust by Camillo Rusconi (1658/1728)

Above the altar “Christ between St. Catherine of Siena and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque” 1922 by Corrado Mezzana
On the left “Bust of Girolamo Butigella” about 1515 maybe by Jacopo Tatti aka Jacopo Sansovino (1486/1570)

“Tomb of Francesco Tornabuoni” by Mino da Fiesole (1429/84)
In the upper part “Tomb of Cardinal Tebaldi” 1466 by Andrea Bregno (1418/1503) and Giovanni Duknovich aka Giovanni Dalmata (about 1440/1510)

“Glory of St. Dominic” maybe by Giuseppe Puglia aka il Bastaro (about 1600/36)
“Virgin Mary and Child with Sts. Peter and Paul” by Marcello Venusti (about 1512/79)
“Conclaves in the sacristy of S. Maria sopra Minerva in 1431 with the election of Eugenius IV Coldumer (1431/47) and in 1447 with the election of Nicholas V Parentucelli (1447/55)” by G.B. Speranza (about 1600/40)
“Crucifixion with Dominican saints” 1637/38 by Andrea Sacchi (1599/1661)

1559 Guidetto Guidetti (about 1498/1564)
Frescoes of the seventeenth century by Giuseppe Puglia aka il Bastaro, Francesco Nappi (about 1565/1630) and others