Sunday, December 22, 2019


Via XX Settembre 15

Built in the ninth century for Leo III (795/816) over two ancient Roman houses (ad duas domos) belonging, according to legend, to the family of S. Susan, beheaded under Diocletian (284/305) for refusing to marry the son of the Emperor

The two houses date from the late first century AD and the beginning of the second century AD and would later belonged to the father of Susan, Gabinius, and her uncle, Pope Caius (283/296), brother of Gabinius

Rebuilt with the elimination of the side naves for Sixtus IV Della Rovere (1471/84) who assigned it to the Hermits of St. Augustine

In 1587 it was assigned to the Brotherhood of St. Bernard

Restored in 1595 by Carlo Maderno (1556/1629) for Cardinal Girolamo Rusticucci
The renovation works was begun by his cousin Domenico Fontana (1543/1607)

Since 1922 it is assigned to the Paulist Fathers, and it is the National Catholic Church of the USA

1603 Carlo Maderno first manifestation of the future spatial conception of the Baroque style

“In addition to being the first great effort of his career, this work can be considered his more courageous and representative one. (...) The façade of St. Susanna was understood primarily as an opportunity for Maderno to characterize the surrounding environment, to achieve then one of those urban centers that Sixtus IV had imagined for his road network. Maderno's concern for urban planning can be seen in two main characteristics (...): the lateral flaps that give body to the top of the façade (...), and the wings that gradually introduce the monumental transition from the building to the surrounding urban fabric. (...) Introduced by the inhibited cadence of the wings, the façade snaps forward (...), gets charged with plastic tension, with chiaroscuro vibrations” (Paolo Portoghesi)

“With this unique work, the masterpiece of Maderno, architecture managed to keep the pace with the revolutionary events of painting in those years. In contrast with many Mannerist buildings, the principle that governs this structure is easy to follow: it is based on a gradual concentration, an almost mathematical clarity of intercolumniations, architectonical orders and decorations focusing towards the center” (Rudolf Wittkower)

“It is plain to see in comparing the façade of St. Susanna, with that of the Gesu Church, absolutely flat and devoid of ornamentation painting, how here there has been really a break with the tradition of the Renaissance. What an exuberant richness of movement and painterly effects in Maderno, what innovations in the use of traditional motifs, what a safe and pondered use of the decorative element as a compositional factor in its own right! Here and not in Vignola or Della Porta must be sought the decisive moment that opened the way to the great masters of the Roman Baroque” (Hermann Voss)

At the bottom on the left “St. Susan”, on the right “S. Felicita” by Giovanni Antonio Parracca the Younger aka Valsoldino
At the top on the right “St. Gabinius”, on the left “Pope St. Caius” by Stefano Maderno (1560/1636)

1596 Carlo Maderno (1556/1629) with coat of arms of Cardinal Rusticucci, relief with S. Susan and decorations by Giovanni Guerra (1544/1618) and Orazio Gentilone

“Six stories of the Old Testament of Jewish Susan”:
“Daniel sent by God takes up the defense of Susan led to martyrdom”
“Susan unjustly accused by the Elders”
“Susanna is threatened by the Elders as she bathes in the garden”
“Susan’s thanksgiving”
“Stoning of the Elders”
“Daniel questioning the Elders”
They were all painted in about 1595 by Baldassare Croce (about 1553/1628) between geometrical divisions as to simulate tapestries by Matteo Zaccolini da Cesena (1574/1630), probably painted after the stories

On the right “Isaiah” and “Jeremiah” about 1597 maybe by Giovanni Antonio Parracca aka Valsoldo (?/1642-46)
On the left “Ezekiel” and “Daniel” about 1597 by Flaminio Vacca (1538/1605)

“Tomb of the sculptor Filippo Della Valle (1698/1768) and of his daughter, the painter Camilla” by an anonymous eighteenth-century artist
“Commemorative plaque of Giulia Poiana de Crispolti” 1692

Paintings on the vault “Angels in glory with instruments of the Passion of Christ” and on the pillars “Vision of St. Benedict” and “St. Bernard and the Miracle of the Crucifix” beginning of 1700 by the Venetian Domenico Paradisi (active in the first half of the eighteenth century)
Frescoes side “St. Bernard” and “St. Benedict” by an anonymous artist of the late nineteenth century

Painted in the years 1593/97 with, from the right:
“Martyrdom of St. Felicity” by Paris Nogari (about 1536/1601)
“St. Susan refuses to worship idols” and “St. Susan rejects the marriage proposal of the son of Diocletian” by Cesare Nebbia (1536/1614)
“Torture and death of St. Gabinius” by Baldassare Croce (about 1553/1628)

“St. Susan in glory” and vault “Savior” by Cesare Nebbia
Statues in the pillars of the arch of the apse “St. Peter” and “St. Paul” maybe by Camillo Mariani (1567/1611)
Interior walls of the pillars of the arch of the apse and the triumphal arch with paintings of martyrs converted by St. Susanna and her father Gabinius: “Serena, Maximus, Claudius, Alexander and Prepedigna Cuzia”

“Death of St. Susan” by the Sicilian Tommaso Laureti (about 1530/1602), a pupil of Sebastiano Del Piombo

“Emblematic work of Tommaso Laureti, a painter who was Sicilian, but educated in Bologna, in which a fine prospective exercise puts emphasis on the dramatic detail of the decapitated head and on the obelisk in the background, references alluding to the theme of martyrdom and to the pontificate of Sixtus V” (Angela Catalano)

Decorated from 1590 for Camilla Peretti sister of Pope Sixtus V 
Above the altar “Martyrdom of St. Lawrence” by Cesare Nebbia (1536/1614)
On the right “Martyrdom of St. Eleutherius” and on the left “Baptism of S. Genesio” by G.B. Pozzo (1561/91) who died before he had a chance to finish his work, which was completed by Cesare Nebbia

Trompe d’oeil vault with “Glory of Cherubim”
On the altar in the tabernacle “Sts. Susan, Gabinius and Felicity”
High in the ciborium “Blessing Christ between angels with Christological symbols” everything maybe by Baldassare Croce (about 1553/1628)

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