All images © by Roberto Piperno, owner of the domain. Write to email@example.com. Text edited by Rosamie Moore.
Page revised in January 2009.
Monastero de Monaci
7) (Day 2) (Rione Monti)
In this page:
The plate by Giuseppe Vasi
SS. Vito e Modesto
Arco di Gallieno
S. Antonio Abate
The Plate (No. 126)
In several plates Vasi portrayed a stray dog; in this case perhaps he did it as a reference to St. Vitus whose help was sought by those who had been attacked by rabid dogs; the church is dedicated to Sts. Vitus and Modestus, two IVth century martyrs; the main objective of the view is the ancient arch which with some artistic licence Vasi used to frame the
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) SS. Vito e Modesto;
2) Arco di Gallieno; 3) Trofei
di Mario; 4) Monastero delle Viperesche. 3) is shown in another plate. The small map shows also 5) S. Antonio Abate.
The view in February 2009
Monastero delle Viperesche has been widely modernized, the church underwent many changes and was given a medieval appearance which most likely it never had, the Roman ruins are no longer visible, yet the view is very picturesque even today.
Viperesche was not a reference to venomous nuns, but to Livia Vipereschi who founded an institution (1688) which cared for young women in danger, spinsters and widows.
At Vasi's time the small monastery adjoining the church housed a few Cistercian monks (their main Roman monastery was at S. Croce in Gerusalemme, which is not very far away).
(left) Fašade; (centre) 1901 fašade and a modern fountain which symbolizes Rione Monti; (right) the apse and a XVth century window
A church dedicated to Sts. Vitus and Modestus is recorded in the early IXth century, but it was entirely rebuilt in the vicinity of the old building in 1477 by Pope Sixtus IV whose name and erased coat of arms appears on the lintel of the door. In 1901 the entrance to the church was reoriented and
a new fašade was built on Via Carlo Alberto, a modern street. In 1973-77 the church
was brought back to its original orientation and given a bare fašade without the embellishments made in the XVIIth century.
(left) Arco di Gallieno; (right) inscriptions on the arch: "Gallieno Clementissimo Principi Cuius Invicta Virtus Sola Pietate Superata Est Et Saloninae Sanctissimae Aug.." (above) and "Aurelius Victor V(ir) E(gregius) Dicatissimus Numini Maiestatique Eorum" (below)
The arch was originally a gate (Porta Esquilina) of the Servian Walls; at the time of Emperor Augustus the gate was given a monumental appearance with two minor arches at the sides of the major one; there is evidence of an erased inscription of that time. In 262 the arch was dedicated to Emperor Gallienus and his wife Salonina who owned a large estate outside the gate. In the new inscription the emperor was celebrated for his military leadership which was exceeded only by his piety. The two minor openings were demolished when the church was built.
(above) Medieval inscription written in "onciale" script and stating that the church was built by Cardinal Pietro Capocci; (left) XXth century fašade; (right) detail of the portal
In 1259 Cardinal Pietro Capocci founded a hospital to cure those affected by herpes zoster, which in Italy was called St. Anthony's fire and therefore it was dedicated to that saint (in other countries St. Anthony's fire refers to ergotism or erysipelas).
The Capocci were an important family at that time and they had their fortified houses in this part of Rome. In the following century a church was built on the premises of the hospital. The complex was modified many times until in 1932 it became the Pontifical Seminar for the Russian-Byzantine
rite (thus now it is called Russicum). The XIIIth century portal of the hospital by the Vassalletto is today placed at the centre of the church fašade (you may wish to see the church as it appeared in a 1588 Guide to Rome).
S. Antonio Abate (St. Anthony the Great) is the patron saint
of pack-animals, so once a year horses and donkeys were brought to the square in front of the church to be blessed.
The ceremony was briefly described by J. W. Goethe in his Italienische Reise (January 18, 1787). The ceremony now takes place at S. Eusebio.
Excerpts from Giuseppe Vasi 1761 Itinerary related to this page:
Chiesa de' SS. Vito e Modesto
Molto antica ed ancora di somma venerazione Ŕ questa chiesa, perchŔ da quello, che si legge, quivi
fu il macello Liviano, in cui furono poi martirizzati moltissimi Cristiani: perci˛ sono in essa de' corpi di
santi Martiri, e la pietra sopra cui furono uccisi a guisa di bestie da macello: onde fu detto questo
luogo macellum martyrum. Custodiscono questa chiesa li Monaci Cisterciensi, e vi risiede il di loro
L'arco antico, che si vede appoggiato alla detta chiesa, fu eretto da
Marco Aurelio in onore di Gallieno Imperatore, e dalla medesima chiesa si dice ora di s. Vito.
Poco dopo evvi sull'alto la
Chiesa e Spedale di S. Antonio Abate
L'an. 1259. fu eretta questa chiesa insieme collo spedale per un legato del Card. Pietro Capocci,
a favore de' poveri scottati dal fuoco, e per˛ sono custoditi da' Canonici di sant' Antonio di nazione
Francese. La cappella del santo Titolare e l'altra a sinistra dell'altare maggiore furono dipinte dal
Pomaranci, e la vita del Santo dipinta intorno alla chiesa Ŕ di Gio. Batista Lombardelli Marchigiano.
I laterali fatti di nuovo nel cappellone sono di Mon s¨ Parosel Avignonese; e la croce di pietra, che si
vede dinanzi, la chiesa vi fu posta l'an. 1745. invece del ciborio, elle vi era prima, caduto per l'antichitÓ, e
Next plate in Book 7: Convento dei Padri di S. Bernardo
Next step in Day 2 itinerary: Basilica
di S. Maria Maggiore