Sunday, May 26, 2019


Formerly S. Nicola in Agone, mentioned by the sources for the first time in 1186
It was built with marble taken from the nearby Stadium of Domitian
In 1476 Sixtus IV Della Rovere (1471/84) granted the church of S. Stefano in Regione Pontis (destroyed in 1888 for the construction of the Victor Emmanuel II Bridge) to the four transalpine nations: France, Burgundy, Lorraine and Savoy. Lorraine was independent nation until its annexation to France in 1766
In 1612 the sculptor from Lorraine Nicolas Cordier (1567/1612) left a large sum for the construction of a new national church of Lorraine
In 1623 it was decided to rebuild the old and abandoned S. Nicola in Agone
Rebuilt 1635/36 with new FAÇADE in travertine by the architect from Lorraine François Desjardins, when it was assigned to the Brotherhood of Lorraine

Fully decorated with splendid frescoes in the years 1731/33 by Corrado Giaquinto (1703/66), his first great masterpiece:
Spandrels “Four cardinal virtues”: Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance
Vault of the presbytery “Three theological virtues”: Faith, Hope and Charity
Counter façade “Angel releasing a prisoner”
“These paintings, made readable again by the recent restoration, marked the Roman debut of the artist, who proved himself master of his own personal language, formed on contemporary Roman examples, while the influence of Francesco Solimena seemed to have somewhat reduced (...). Sign of the success met by Giaquinto with the decoration of the national church of Lorraine was the call to the court of Turin, in June 1733, by Filippo Iuvarra” (Susanne Adine Meyer - Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani Treccani)
“Giaquinto first worked closely with Sebastiano Conca, then ended up distinguishing progressively himself for a more blunt penchant for painting with results of airy and bright rococo, as with these brilliant frescoes” (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)
Above the altar “St. Peter Fourier and the Virgin Mary” about 1730 by Francesco Antonozzi

“St. Nicholas with the three children and a prisoner” about 1676/86 by Nicolas François de Bar aka Nicolas Lorrain or Niccolò Lorenese (1632/95)
In the upper part “Decorations with architectural trompe-l'oeil” 1750 by the Roman architect Giuseppe Silvestri

Above the altar “Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine of Alexandria” about 1660/74 by Nicolas François de Bar aka Nicolas Lorrain or Niccolò Lorenese

Four reliefs in stucco “Stories of St. Nicholas”:
On the right “St. Nicholas elected bishop of Myra” and “St. Nicholas refuses breast milk on Wednesdays and Fridays”
On the left “St. Nicholas child prays during a bath” and “St. Nicholas distributes his possessions to the poor” 1749 by G.B. Grossi, who also sculpted one relief for the Trevi Fountain
During the same period the SIXTEEN PILLARS were coated with Sicilian jasper and yellow marble from Siena by Pietro Mariotti

“Crucifix” in front of which young Roman couples used to swear eternal love


St. Nicholas of Tolentino (1245/1305) was born in the Marche region and lived most of his life in Tolentino, where he also died. He was canonized in 1325
The church was built in 1599 for the Discalced Augustinians
Rebuilt in the years 1619/51 by Bonaventura Cherubino da Spoleto and Martino Longhi the Younger (1602/60)
Completed in the years 1651/54 maybe by Giovanni Maria Baratta (active since 1644/d. after 1679) under the guidance of Alessandro Algardi (1598/1654) for Prince Camillo Pamphilj nephew of Pope Innocent X Pamphilj (1644/55)
The identity of the main architect is not clear and it seems that the prince Camillo Pamphilj himself actively participated in the design of the church, being, as the scholar Passeri wrote, intendentissimo di architettura (extremely knowledgeable in architecture)
With the completion of the church the union of the families Pamphilj and Barberini was sealed. Olimpiuccia Giustiniani, nephew Camillo Pamphilj, married Don Maffeo, heir of the Barberinis
The church was consecrated in 1685
Since 1883 it belongs to the Pontifical Armenian College. Here mass is officiated with the Armenian rite
Restorations in the years 1938/42
1653/70 by Giovanni Maria Baratta
To the left of the façade, above the entrance of the College, ovate with relief “Glory of St. Nicholas” 1664 by Giovanni Francesco De Rossi (active 1640/77)
Next to the window “Religion” and “Charity” 1665 by Andrea Baratta (about 1595/1666), brother of Giovanni Maria
“Octagons with figures of saints”, starting from the entrance:
“St. William of Aquitaine” 1663 by Pietro Paolo Naldini (1619/91)
“Blessed Clare of Montefalco” 1664 by Giovanni Francesco De Rossi, who also sculpted the “Angels” in the counter façade and near the windows
“St. Augustine”, “St. Thomas of Villanova” and “St. Agnes” 1661 by Pietro Sassi
“St. Nicholas of Tolentino” 1656 by G.B. Ferrabosco
Stuccos in the vault by Stefano Roncaglia and Pietro Sassi

“Stoups” in marble 1664/65 by Andrea Baratta

Above the altar “Miracle of St. Nicholas of Bari who resurrected a child” 1710 by Filippo Laurenzi (active in the eighteenth century)
On the sides “Nativity of the Virgin Mary” and “Coronation of the Virgin” 1680 by Giovanni Ventura Borghesi pupil of Pietro da Cortona

Above the altar “Meeting between Pope Sylvester and St. Gregory” 1908 by Giovanni Gagliardi (1838/1924), grandson of Pietro Gagliardi
On the right “Tomb of Patriarch Antony Peter IX Hassun” d. 1884
On the left “Tomb of Cardinal Gregory Peter XV Agagianian”

Above the altar “Sts. Lucretia and Gertrude” old copy from the original by Giovanni Francesco Barbieri aka Guercino (1591/1666) now at the Savoy Gallery in Turin
Walls and dome “Stories of the Sts. Lucretia and Gertrude” 1645/48 by Pietro Paolo Ubaldini (about 1614/about 1684) a pupil of Pietro Berrettini aka Pietro da Cortona
On the right “Tomb of Cardinal Federico Lante Della Rovere” 1775 by Virginio Bracci

Altar by Giovanni Maria Baratta
Above the altar “St. John the Baptist in the Wilderness” 1668/70 by G.B. Gaulli aka Baciccio (1639/1709) for the prince G.B. Pamphilj
At the center of the vault stucco “St. Thomas of Villanova” by Ercole Ferrata (1610/86) by Camillo Pamphilj
On the sides of the altar “Gravestones of Giuseppe and Nicola Oregi” 1669 for Cardinal Agostino Oregi

1651/55 Giovanni Maria Baratta (active since 1644/d. after 1679) under the guidance of Alessandro Algardi (1598/1654)
Marble altarpiece “Virgin Mary and Child with Sts. Augustine and Monica appearing to St. Nicholas of Tolentino” before 1654 by Domenico Guidi (1625/1701) and Ercole Ferrata (who executed St. Nicholas) designed by Alessandro Algardi
In the upper part marble relief “Eternal Father and Angels” by Ercole Ferrata
Above the pediment “Angels” maybe by Francesco Baratta (about 1590/about 1663)
Gilded stucco in the apse 1656/57 by G.B. Ferrabosco
“In 1654 Algardi was dead and Ferrata, who had become a successful sculptor (...), seemed about to take his place as representative of Baroque classicism. His style formed in contact with the naturalism of Neapolitan artists and later of Bernini, always showed classical cadences, already appreciated by him in Naples with Duquesnoy (admired certainly with interest in his Roman works), and almost imposed on him by the attendance to Algardi's school. The influence of Bernini, inevitable, in Ferrata is, however, always limited, often only episodic” (Gerardo Casale - Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani Treccani)
“Glory of St. Nicholas of Tolentino” 1670/72 by Giovanni Coli (1636/81) and Filippo Gherardi (1643/1704), the first Roman work of these two inseparable friends from Lucca
“In 1669 they were called to Rome by Pietro da Cortona to paint the dome of S. Maria in Campitelli, but when they arrived they found not only that the old master was dead, but also that they had lost most of their possessions, money, and paintings - they used to own works even by Tintoretto and Veronese - on a ship that was attacked by pirates. Moreover, to add insult to injury, it all came to nothing of S. Maria in Campitelli. The two, however, placing themselves under the protection of Cardinal Spada, managed to get the commission of the dome of St. Nicholas of Tolentino. Their fresco (...) although it derives directly, both in the overall composition and in the details, from the fresco by Berrettini in the dome of S. Maria in Vallicella (...), in its lightness, airiness and ease it anticipates the later Baroque style which Baciccio would adopt in the dome of the Gesù church” (Robert Enggass - Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani Treccani)
“Vows of the Augustinian Order: Humility, Chastity, Obedience and Poverty” 1643 by Pietro Paolo Ubaldini (about 1614/about 1684)

Above the altar “Apparition of the Virgin Mary to Sts. Matthew and Cecilia” and frescoes in the rest of the chapel with “Stories of Sts. Matthew and Cecilia” 1638/40 by Pietro Paolo Ubaldini
Canvas on the sides “Agony of St. Cecilia” and “Martyrdom of St. Matthew” maybe by an unknown French artist of the early seventeenth century pupil of Guido Reni

On the altar “Preaching of the blessed Gomidas” 1929 by Mario Barberis (1893/1960)
The Armenian priest Gomidas Keumurgian, a native of Constantinople, was martyred in 1707 and was beatified in 1929, the same year in which this painting was executed
Stucco on the vault and “St. Agnes” in the octagon by Ercole Ferrata

Altar designed by Pietro Camporese the Elder (1726/81)
On the altar “Our Lady of Good Counsel” by Cristoforo Unterberger (1732/98)
Stucco decoration around the painting by Vincenzo Pacetti (1746/1820)
On the right “Holy Family” 1790 by Giuseppe Cades (1750/99)
On the left “Annunciation” 1789 by the Capuchin Father Raffaele Minossi
In the lunettes “Sibyls” in monochrome and in the dome “God the Father in Glory” by Ermenegildo Costantini (1731/91)

1668/77. Begun by Pietro Berrettini aka Pietro da Cortona (1597/1669), completed after 1674 by his pupil Ciro Ferri (1634/89) for G.B. Gavotti
“To the typical chromatic chords of Bernini, Pietro da Cortona adds, in contrast with the marble, gilded bronze which, in the ribs, ligaments and finials, has its discontinuous light intertwined with the darker colors of the stone to reach in the Gavotti Chapel an effect of funeral wealth” (Paolo Portoghesi)
Marble altarpiece “Apparition of the Virgin Mary to Antonio Botta” by Cosimo Fancelli (1620/88)
On the right “Statue of St. Joseph” by Ercole Antonio Raggi (1624/86) over the “Tomb of Carlo Gavotti” m. 1690
On the left “Statue of St. John the Baptist” by Ercole Ferrata (1610/86) over the “Tomb of G.B. Gavotti”, uncle of Carlo Gavotti
Medallion in the upper part “St. Charles Borromeo” maybe by Ercole Antonio Raggi
Fresco in the dome “Glory of Angels” begun by Pietro Berrettini aka Pietro da Cortona and finished by Ciro Ferri after the master's death

“The Holy Sepulchre” 1679, exact copy of the one in Jerusalem, formerly in the church of St. Mary of Egypt and moved here in 1921, after it was desecrated to show the Temple of Portunus
It is an important copy because the original in Jerusalem was destroyed by fire in 1808 and rebuilt two years later in a different style
On the altar “St. Filippo Neri in ecstasy in the Church of Minerva” 1728 by Cristoforo Ceo


1546 with the adjoining monastery on the site of the ancient TEMPLE OF MINERVA FROM CHALCIDICE
Founded by S. Ignatius of Loyola to accommodate women badly married, or married women in public sin without fear of God and shameless of men who wanted to rehabilitate themselves
Renovated with the monastery in the years 1668/71 by Giovanni Antonio De Rossi (1616/95) and 1671/96 by Carlo Fontana (1634/1714) who also designed the interior
“A masterpiece of improvisation is the church for the Augustinian of St. Martha at the Collegio Romano. It was a sixteenth-century church with a single nave that Fontana modified by adding the side chapels and raising the vault considerably. The interior decoration as well was probably designed by Fontana and executed by Leonardo Retti and G.B. Gaulli” (Helmut Hager - Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani Treccani)
1852 by Luigi Poletti (1792/1869)
The property of the church passed to the Italian State in 1872. Since then it was used as barracks and military store
The MONASTERY is now the seat of the Rome Police First District
The CHURCH was saved in the sixties from being transformed into a the gym after a strong media campaign and now is home to conferences, conventions, exhibitions and concerts
It is owned by the Ministry of Heritage and Cultural Activities
G.B. Gaulli aka Baciccio (1639/1709) with Paolo Albertoni (1670/after about 1695) and Girolamo Troppa (1630/after 1710) who also did the frescoes in the presbytery
Sculptures by Leonardo Retti (active 1670/1709)