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All images © by Roberto Piperno, owner of the domain. Write to romapip@quipo.it. Text edited by Rosamie Moore.
Page revised in June 2010.


Monastero dei Canonici Lateranensi e Chiesa di S. Maria della Pace (Book 7) (Map C2) (Day 4) (View C5) (Rione Ponte) and (Rione Parione)


In this page:
 The plate by Giuseppe Vasi
 Today's view
 S. Maria della Pace
 S. Biagio della Fossa and Palazzo Gambirasi
 S. Maria dell' Anima
 S. Nicola dei Lorenesi
 Torre Millina

The Plate (No. 121)


In 1656-58 Pope Alexander VII, born Fabio Chigi commissioned Pietro da Cortona to revisit the design and facilities of S. Maria della Pace, a church founded in 1482 by Pope Sixtus IV, to whom the Chigi were linked by ancient bonds. Pietro da Cortona proposed to improve the access to the church by enlarging the street leading to it and by opening a small square in front of the church in order to allow coaches to turn around; his project, notwithstanding the cost for expropriating and pulling down several houses, was endorsed by the pope, who personally visited the building yard; the final result is regarded as a masterpiece of urban design, for the monumental effect it achieves in a narrow space.
In this etching Giuseppe Vasi showed a luxury coach going to the church to remind the viewer of the original purpose of the square.
The view is taken from the green dot in the small 1748 map here below. In the description below the plate Vasi made reference to: 1) Entrance to the Monastery; 2) Buildings which form a sort of theatre; 3) (rear) Entrance to S. Maria dell'Anima. The small map shows also 4) S. Maria della Pace; 5) S. Biagio della Fossa; 6) Palazzo Gambirasi; 7) S. Nicola dei Lorenesi; 8) Torre Millina. The dotted line in the small map delineates the border between Rione Ponte (upper part) and Rione Parione (lower part).


Today

The view in June 2010

Pope Alexander VII issued a formal notification prohibiting alterations to the size and decoration of the buildings surrounding the church, so the only noticeable change is the erasing of the coat of arms of the pope during the French occupation of Rome at the beginning of the XIXth century.

S. Maria della Pace

Upper part of the fašade

A small church on the site of S. Maria della Pace is recorded in the XIIth century; according to tradition in 1480 a sacred image in the porch of this medieval church bled when hit by the knife of a gambler who had lost his money. Pope Sixtus IV went to the site of the miracle and made the vow to build a new church if the wars which plagued Italy came to an end (as a matter of fact the pope himself caused some of these conflicts). When a truce in the war against Ferrara was agreed, the pope fulfilled his promise; there is uncertainty about the architect who designed the new church, which was completed in 1525 by the construction of a small dome; the wealthiest personages of the time promoted the decoration of the interior; among them banker Agostino Chigi, whose chapel has paintings by Raphael.
You may wish to see the church as it appeared in a 1588 Guide to Rome.

(left) Side view; (right) detail of the structure linking the church to the nearby buildings including a portrait of Pope Sixtus IV

Pope Alexander VII was a descendant of Agostino Chigi: the heraldic symbols of the latter were six mountains and a star; he was allowed to add the oak which was the symbol of Pope Sixtus IV and his nephew Pope Julius II; for this reason Pietro da Cortona based the decoration of the new fašade on these subjects; also the inscription dictated by the pope had a reference to his heraldic mountains: SUSCIPIANT MONTES PACEM POPULO ET COLLES IUSTITIAM (Let the mountains receive peace for the people: and the hills justice. Psalm LXXII:3 Douay-Rheims Bible).
The image used as background for this page shows a detail of the door with the pope's heraldic symbols.

(left) XVIth century entrance to the monastery with the coat of arms of Cardinal Oliviero Carafa; (right) XVIIth century entrance

The construction of S. Maria della Pace was followed by that of the nearby friary under the patronage of Cardinal Oliviero Carafa; the Carafa are best known for Cardinal Giovanni Pietro Carafa who became Pope Paul IV in 1555; at the pope's death the Romans destroyed all references to him and his family, but they spared this coat of arms of Cardinal Oliviero, perhaps because he had given them Pasquino, the most famous talking statue of Rome. The cloister of the friary was designed by Donato Bramante.

S. Biagio della Fossa and Palazzo Gambirasi

(left) Site of former S. Biagio della Fossa; (centre) Palazzo Gambirasi; (right-above) detail of the lintel with the heraldic symbol of Cardinal Gambirasi (a shrimp holding a cross); (right-below) detail of a window

The small church of S. Biagio della Fossa was pulled down in 1812 during the French annexation of Rome. It was located on the site now occupied by the orange building.
Pope Alexander VII authorized Pietro da Cortona to pull down the houses which caused difficulties to the coaches going to S. Maria della Pace; in their place Giovanni Antonio de' Rossi designed a narrow palace which was bought by Donato Gambirasi, a prelate (but according to others a rich merchant) from Bergamo. Gambero is the Italian word for shrimp and a shrimp holding a cross was the heraldic symbol of Donato Gambirasi. In the design of the palace Giovanni Antonio de' Rossi had to comply with the requirements established by Pietro da Cortona to emphasize the view of S. Maria della Pace.

S. Maria dell' Anima

(left/centre) Views of the church; (right) bell tower

S. Maria dell' Anima is the church of the German Nation (click here for a list of national churches in Rome). The name comes from a little statue of the Virgin Mary between two souls in purgatory. The church was built at the beginning of the XVIth century partly based on the design of an unknown German architect; during the construction it is thought that Bramante and Sansovino were asked for advice. The fašade is unusual in Rome because it reflects the structure of the interior where the two side aisles have the same height and width of the nave, a characteristic of German Hallenkirche. The decoration of the bell tower reflects northern patterns too; a bronze double-headed eagle, the symbol of the Austrian emperors, was placed at its top during a restoration (you may wish to see the church as it appeared in a 1588 Guide to Rome).

(left) Monument to Pope Adrian VI; (right) Deposition by Francesco Salviati

The church has several interesting monuments and chapels of the Renaissance and baroque periods.
The monument to Pope Adrian VI (the last non-Italian pope before John Paul II) is the final monument to a pope where the deceased is portrayed lying down in a gisant posture.
The influence of Michelangelo on the artists of his time is evident in a 1550 painting by Francesco Salviati in one of the chapels.

(left/centre) Monuments to Ferdinand Van den Eynde and Adrian Vryburch by Franšois Duquesnoy; (right) 1710 monument to Bishop Georgius Meisellius

Francois Duquesnoy was a Flemish sculptor who worked in Rome at the time of Bernini and who was asked by the latter to execute a gigantic statue of St. Andrew for the octagon of S. Pietro. Probably Duquesnoy was more talented when he worked at smaller sculptures, as his two monuments in S. Maria dell'Anima show. His putti had a great influnce on many other contemporary baroque artists, including Bernini and Rubens.
Memento Mori (remember that you will die) is a page of this website dedicated to baroque funerary monuments which focus on the representation of Death. The monument to Bishop Georgius Meisellius is one of the last and most dramatic examples of this genre; Georgius Meisellius did not want his name to be remembered and he placed on his sarcophagus a spine-chilling motto: VIVENS MORI MEMOR (while alive he was aware of death, but also: while alive be aware that you will die). You may wish to see a very fine monument by Alessandro Algardi or a dramatic painting portraying the martyrdom of S. Barbara in S. Maria dell'Anima.

S. Nicola dei Lorenesi

(left) Fašade; (right) ceiling by Corrado Giaquinto

In 1473 Pope Sixtus IV assigned a small church (S. Maria della Purificazione) to the brotherhood of the Four Transalpine Nations (France, Lorraine, Burgundy and Savoy); over time however these foreign communities grew and each "nation" (Lorraine, Burgundy and Savoy were not part of the French Kingdom) decided to have its own church in Rome (also the community of those coming from Brittany did the same).
In 1622 a brotherhood of people from Lorraine was given a small church near Piazza Navona which was rebuilt in 1635-36. It was designed by Franšois du Jardin, a member of the brotherhood which included the famous painter Claude Lorrain. In 1733 the ceiling and the apse were painted by Corrado Giaquinto, a Neapolitan painter who later on worked in Turin and Madrid. Lorraine as an independent nation ceased to exist in 1766 when the Duchy of Lorraine was annexed by France, but until 1797 the church continued to belong to the Lorraine brotherhood (click here for a list of national churches in Rome).
S. Nicola dei Lorenesi is now part of the French religious institutions in Rome (Pieux Etablissement de la France).

Torre Millina

(left/centre) Torre Millina; (right) detail of the upper part of the tower which retains some "graffito" paintings

Torre Millina was a medieval tower which in the late XVth century became part of the house of the Mellini (or Millini), a Roman family of some importance (
Palazzo Mellini al Corso, Villa Mellini a Monte Mario and Monument to Cardinal Mellini in S. Maria del Popolo). On the occasion of the marriage of Mario Mellini with Ginevra Cybo, niece of Pope Innocent VIII in 1491, the tower was entirely decorated with graffito paintings.

Excerpts from Giuseppe Vasi 1761 Itinerary related to this page:


Chiesa di s. Maria della Pace
Si chiamava anticamente s. Andrea degli Acquarenarj, ovvero Pescatori, la quale essendo parrocchiale, vi era un piccolo portico con una immagine della ss. Vergine, in cui messisi a giuocare un giorno due giovani, uno di essi tanto si infierý per la perdita del danaro, che oltraggi˛ la santa Immagine con un sasso, ed uscendo dalla percossa prodigiosamente il sangue, corse il popolo a quello spettacolo con tanta compunzione,che saputosi dal Papa, che in quel tempo era Sisto IV. vi accorse anch'esso processionalmente per implorare per l'incercessione della ss. Vergine la Pace, e quiete dell'Italia, in quel tempo vessata dalla guerra; ed essendo stata esaudita la preghiera, nell'anno 1482. eresse la nuova chiesa in onore della ss. Vergine sotto il titolo della Pace, ponendovi sull'altare maggiore l'Immagine miracolosa, e la concedŔ ai Canonici Lateranensi.
Nel Pontificato di Alessandro VII. correndo l'istesso flagello in Italia, per impetrare similmente la Pace fra' Principi Cristiani, fu ristaurata, e adornata la chiesa col disegno di Pietro da Cortona, il quale seppe in poco sito fare un nobile e magnifico prospetto.
Sono in questa chiesa delle pitture e sculture riguardevoli, e per˛ non voglio defraudarne il gentilissimo lettore. La deposizione della Croce nella prima cappella a destra Ŕ opera di metallo fatta da Cosimo Fancelli, il quale fece ancora la statua di s. Caterina, ed il sepolcro con due putti, che sta incontro; il san Bernardino per˛ coll'altro sepolcro Ŕ di Ercole Ferrata, e le pitture sopra l'arco sono di Raffaele da Urbino; quelle per˛ sopra il cornicione sono di Rosso Fiorentino. Le statue di s. Pietro e s. Paolo, con altre sculture nella cappella, che siegue, sono di Vincenzo de' Rossi da Fiesole, il quadro dell'altare di Carlo Cesi, e le Sibille nel di fuori sono di Timoteo della Vite. Il s. Gio Evangelista nella cappella sotto la cupola Ŕ del Cav. d'Arpino, e la visitazione di s. Elisabetta in alto, di Carlo Maratti; il battesimo di Ges¨ Cristo nella cappella, che siegue Ŕ di Orazio Gentileschi, e in alto, la presentazione della ss. Vergine al tempio Ŕ di Baldassare Peruzzi. I due laterali nell'altare maggiore ornato di preziosi marini, e metalli dorati, sono del Cav. Passignani, le pitture ne' pilastri, di Lavinia Fontana, e quelle nella volta, di Francesco Albano. La nativitÓ della Madonna sopra la cappella del Crocifisso Ŕ del Cav. Vanni il giovane; la nativitÓ del Signore nell'altra cappella Ŕ del Sermoneta, ed il transito della Madonna, che sta sopra, Ŕ di Gio. Maria Morandi. Il s. Girolamo nell'altra cappella Ŕ del Venusti, e le pitture di Adamo ed Eva sopra il cornicione sono di Filippo Lauri. I1 s. Ubaldo nell'ultima Ŕ di Lazzaro Baldi, e le pitture sopra, sono del suddetto Peruzzi da Siena.
Chiesa di s. Maria dell'Anima
A sinistra della divisata chiesa evvi l'ospizio per la nazione Tedesca, ed insieme la chiesa di s. Maria dell'Anima, eretta l'an. 1400. da Gio. Pietro Fiammingo, e prese un tal titolo per una immagine della ss. Vergine in mezzo a due anime genuflesse, trovata nel fabbricare la chiesa. E' questa senza buona regola di architettura, ornata per˛ di buone pitture a fresco, ma guaste, e molte sculture riguardevoli; fra le quali evvi la PietÓ in marmo fatta ad imitazione di quella del Buonarroti opera di Baccio Bigio: il deposito di Adriano VI. nel presbiterio Ŕ disegno di Baldassare Peruzzi; e l'altro del Duca di Claves, Ŕ di Niccol˛ Aras insieme con Egidio Riviera Fiammingo, e li due depositi su i pilastri della nave con putti sono opere di Francesco Fiammingo. Ultimamente Ŕ stato rifatto l'altare maggiore con marmi mischi, stucchi dorati, e pitture a fresco secondo il disegno di Palo Posi. Incontro evvi la
Chiesa di s. Niccol˛
Fu questa conceduta ai Lorenesi da Gregorio XV. i quali poi nell'anno 1636. la riedificarono da' fondamenti, ed in tal occasione trovarono tanti travertini, che ne fecero il nobile prospetto; ed ultimamente l'hanno tutta incrostata di marmi mischi, ed ornata di stucchi dorati, sculture, e pitture. I1 quadro dell'altare e la s. Caterina sono di Carlo Lorenese, e i due laterali di Corrado Giaquinto, il quale dipinse a fresco la volta nella sua giovent¨, e li quattro bassirilievi in marmo sono di Gio. Grossi Romano.

Next plate in Book 7: Ospizio dei Frati Eremiti

Next step in Day 4 itinerary: Piazza Navona
Next step in your tour of Rione Ponte: Palazzo sul Monte Giordano
Next step in your tour of Rione Parione: Piazza Navona