Visit Rome following 8 XVIIIth century itineraries XVIIIth century Rome in the 10 Books of Giuseppe Vasi - Le Magnificenze di Roma Antica e Moderna The Grand View of Rome by G. Vasi The Environs of Rome: Frascati, Tivoli, Albano and other small towns near Rome A 1781 map of Rome by G. Vasi An 1852 map of Rome by P. Letarouilly Rome seen by a 1905 armchair traveller in the paintings by Alberto Pisa The 14 historical districts of Rome An abridged history of Rome How to spend a peaceful day in Rome Baroque sculptors and their works The coats of arms of the popes in the monuments of Rome Pages on a specific pope Pages complementing the itineraries and the views by Giuseppe Vasi Walks in the Roman countryside and in other towns of Latium following Ferdinand Gregorovius A Directory of links to the Churches of Rome A Directory of links to the Palaces and Villas of Rome A Directory of links to the Other Monuments of Rome A Directory of Baroque Architects with links to their works A Directory of links to Monuments of Ancient Rome A Directory of links to Monuments of Medieval Rome A Directory of links to Monuments of Renaissance A Directory of links to Monuments of the Late Renaissance A list of the most noteworthy Roman Families Directories of fountains, obelisks, museums, etc. Books and guides used for developing this web site An illustrated Glossary of Art Terms Venice and the Levant Roman recollections in Florence A list of Italian towns shown in this web site Venetian Fortresses in Greece Vienna seen by an Italian XVIIIth century traveller A list of foreign towns shown in this web site
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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 May 2010.

To the Italian visitors of my web site

Chiesa e Convento di S. Onofrio (Book 7) (Map D2) (Day 6) (View D1) and (View D2) (Rione Trastevere)

In this page:
 The plate by Giuseppe Vasi
 Today's view
 S. Onofrio
 Tomb of Torquato Tasso
 Chiostro di S. Onofrio
 Cappella della Madonna del Rosario
 Salita di S. Onofrio
 Conservatorio del Padre Bussi (Palazzo Giori)
 Teatro di pii trattenimenti (Quercia del Tasso)

The Plate (No. 123 - ii)

Monastero e Chiesa di S. Onofrio

A site with a commanding view over the City of Rome may not seem the most appropriate location for a hermitage where to live in seclusion from the world; it must be said however that when in 1419 Blessed Nicolò da Forca Palena chose it for founding a small friary, the access to this part of the Janiculum hill was not as easy as it became in 1588, when Pope Sixtus V opened a street which from Porta S. Spirito reached S. Onofrio.
Blessed Nicolò da Forca Palena was the cofounder of the Italian branch of the Order of St. Jerome.
The view shown in the etching by Giuseppe Vasi is taken from the green dot in the small 1748 map here below which shows: 1) S. Onofrio; 2) Cappella della Madonna del Rosario; 3) Palazzo Salviati; 4) Conservatorio del Padre Bussi; 5) Teatro di pii trattenimenti.

Small Map


The view today
The view in May 2010

A modern road going to Monument to Giuseppe Garibaldi cuts the street leading to S. Onofrio and because of this the access to the church has been slightly modified; the friary no longer belongs to the Order of St. Jerome; these are the only changes which have occurred since Vasi's time.

The snow
Snow at S. Onofrio on February 12, 2010

Snow is a very rare event in Rome; because S. Onofrio is on a hill there is a slightly higher chance that the snow settles.

S. Onofrio

S. Onofrio
S. Onofrio

The church and the friary were completed during the XVIth century and at the beginning of the following century they were decorated with many frescoes; a major redesign of the interior of the church occurred during the XIXth century; the gravestone of Blessed Nicolò da Forca Palena was removed and walled in the portico; we know from a 1588 Guide to Rome that in the past many pious visitors went to pray at this gravestone, because in his lifetime Blessed Nicolò da Forca Palena had a reputation for curing sicknesses.
The fountain in the garden is a copy of that which was in Piazza Giudia.

Gravestone of Nicolò da Forca Palena
(left) Gravestone of Blessed Nicolò da Forca Palena by a scholar of Donatello; (right) Battesimo di S. Gerolamo (St. Jerome) by Domenichino (in the background a reconstruction of Ancient Rome)

Tomb of Torquato Tasso

Torquato Tasso
(left) 1608 Monument to Tasso; (centre) coat of arms of Pope Pius IX; (right) Monument to Tasso by Giuseppe Fabris

The sacred armies, and the godly knight,
That the great sepulchre of Christ did free,
I sing; much wrought his valor and foresight,
And in that glorious war much suffered he;
In vain 'gainst him did Hell oppose her might,
In vain the Turks and Morians armed be:
His soldiers wild, to brawls and mutinies prest,
Reduced he to peace, so Heaven him blest.
(translated by Edward Fairfax in 1600)

Today Torquato Tasso and his poem La Gerusalemme Liberata (Jerusalem Delivered) are almost forgotten, but until the beginning of the XIXth century they were very popular: the hero of the poem is Godfrey of Bouillon, the leader of the First Crusade.
Tasso died in 1595 in S. Onofrio when he was about to be crowned with a laurel wreath in Campidoglio.
In 1857, at a time of great difficulty for the Papal State, Pope Pius IX dedicated a chapel of S. Onofrio to him.

Chiostro di S. Onofrio

The Cloister
Chiostro di S. Onofrio

A simple and small cloister was built in the XVth century, but for the Jubilee Year 1600 it was decorated with a long series of frescoes showing episodes from the life of the hermit St. Onophrius of Egypt; each episode is accompanied by a heading in Latin and Italian. The account of the life of St. Onophrius is almost identical to that of St. Paul the First Hermit, who also lived in the Egyptian desert (see the decoration of S. Paolo Primo Eremita).

The Cloister
Episodes of the life of St. Onophrius by Giuseppe Cesari, Sebastiano Strada and Claudio Ridolfi

Madonna del Rosario

Madonna del Rosario
(left) Entrance to the chapel; (right) detail of a Sybil by Agostino Tassi

The last two arches of the friary porch were closed in 1620 to obtain a chapel for the Vaini family, who lived in a casino on the Janiculum, which today is known as Casino Giraud. The dedication to Madonna del Rosario (Our Lady of the Rosary) follows the institution of an annual feast by the same name by Pope Pius V to celebrate the 1571 victory of Lepanto. The entrance has a fine marble decoration.

Salita di S. Onofrio

Salita di S. Onofrio
(left) Steps leading to Via di S. Onofrio; (right) view of S. Giovanni dei Fiorentini from the top of the steps

Steps near Palazzo Salviati reach the street leading to S. Onofrio; in a few moments you can leave one of the noisiest sections of the Lungotevere and find yourself in a Silent Street of Rome.

Conservatorio del Padre Bussi

Conservatorio del Padre Bussi
(above) Views of Palazzo Giori uphill (left) and downhill (right); (below) detail of the decoration

Angelo Giori was appointed cardinal in 1643 by Pope Urban VIII; as a sign of devotion he added the bees of the Barberini, the pope's family, to his heraldic symbols in the decoration of his palace. At Vasi's time the building housed a charity run by Father Alessandro Bussi, which was aimed at helping women che si convertivano dalla loro mala vita passata (who abandoned their former sinful life).

Teatro di Pii Trattenimenti

Teatro di pii trattenimenti
(left) Quercia del Tasso; (centre) open air theatre; (right) view of Acqua Paola from the theatre

Torquato Tasso used to rest under an oak near S. Onofrio. The small summer theatre near that tree is now named after it (Teatro Alla Quercia del Tasso). The oak was struck by lightning in 1843 and today a wall supports its trunk. The reference by Vasi to pious entertainments (pii trattenimenti) is due to the fact that St. Philip Neri taught his pupils at this location.

Excerpts from Giuseppe Vasi 1761 Itinerary related to this page:

Conservatorio del P. Bussi
Dal P. Alessandro Bussi prete della Congregazione dell'oratorio con altri preti ebbe principio questo conservatorio l'anno 1703. in una casa presso il consolato de' Fiorentini, ad effetto di collocarvi alcune povere donne, che vogliono lasciare il peccato. Dipoi concorrendovi alcune persone pie con grosse limosine nel 1740. quì furono trasportate nel palazzo del Card. Giori, ed appresso la
Chiesa e Convento di s. Onofrio
Sull'ultima punta del monte Gianicolo verso ponente, e sovrastante alla valle Vaticana, si vede quella chiesa eretta con il convento da Eugenio IV. e poi terminata dalla famiglia Romana de' Cupis. Sebbene essa sia piccola, e di forma gotica, pure è ornata di belle pitture, e memorie riguardevoli. Sulla porta, della chiesa, evvi un immagine della ss. Vergine dipinta dal Domenichino, e altre pitture nel portico laterale. Le pitture nella prima cappella a destra sono antiche; la ss. Vergine di Loreto nella seconda è opera di Annibale Caracci il resto però è di Gio. Batista Ricci; Le pitture nell'altare maggiore, dalla cornice in su, sono di Bernardino Pintorecchio, e quelle dalla cornice in giù, di Baldassare Peruzzi. Il B. Pietro da Pisa nella cappella, che segue è del Calandrucci Palermitano, ed il s. Girolamo nell'ultima è di Michelangelo Ricciolini Romano; e le altre pitture sono di Pietro Nelli. Inoltre vi sono de' sepolcri di marmo, fra' quali evvi quello di Guglielmo Barclai letterato Inglese, di Tarquinio Tasso, e di Alessandro Guidi celebri poeti Italiani.
I Religiosi, che ufiziano quella chiesa, ebbero principio l'anno 1388. dal B. Niccolò da Pozzolo, il quale quì con alcuni compagni si pose a vivere sotto la protezione di s. Girolamo, e vi stettero da Romiti fino all'anno 1568. allorchè s. Pio V. obbligolli alla professione de' tre voti sotto la regola di s. Agostino; e però Sisto V. pose la chiesa nel numero de' Titoli Cardinalizi, e vi aperse incontro la strada. Nel chiostro del convento vi dipinse Vespasiano Strada alcuni fatti di s. Onofrio, e Leonardo da Vinci un' immagine della ss. Vergine; ma la Natività del Signore nella cappelletta ornata di marmi è del Ballano.
Teatro di pii trattenimenti
San Filippo Neri per allettare la gioventù alla parola di Dio, e altresi per allontanarla dalle lusinghe del secolo, soleva nell'alto del giardino di quello convento andare a spasso con li suoi penitenti, e con bella grazia vi introdusse alcune conferenze spirituali, con altri devoti trattenimenti. Perciò i Preti dell' Oratorio ad imitazione del loro santo Fondatore seguitano in ogni festa di precetto dopo il vespro, principiando dal secondo giorno di Pasqua di Resurrezione fino alla festa di s. Pietro Apostolo, a venirvi con gran concorso di uomini devoti, e vi fanno de' sermoni accompagnati con pii trattenimenti. A tal fine hanno eretto nel medesimo luogo, che frequentava s. Filippo tutto il comodo con sedili in forma di teatro, inalberando però sulla cima il segno della s. Croce.

Next plate in Book 7: Chiesa di S. Maria in Traspontina

Next step in Day 6 itinerary: Palazzo Lanti