All images © by Roberto Piperno, owner of the domain. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org. Text edited by Rosamie Moore.
Page revised in December 2009.
dei Padri di S. Bernardo e Chiesa di S. Pudenziana (Book
7) (Day 2) (Rione Monti)
In this page:
S. Pudenziana (Terme di Novato)
Chiesa del Bambin Gesù
The Plate (No. 127)
Occasionally the heading given by Vasi to his etchings may mislead the viewer; the long building on the right side of the plate is a nunnery, whereas the friary of S. Bernardo is the unassuming house behind S. Pudenziana. The branch of the Cistercian order which was named after St. Bernard of Clairvaux had its main friary at S. Bernardo alle Terme.
The plate shows also some details of Villa
Negroni (formerly known as Villa Peretti or Montalto and entirely lost in the XIXth century): the gate at the end of the street was known as Portone Viminale and the building of which Vasi shows only the tip was Palazzetto Montalto; they were both designed by Domenico Fontana for Pope Sixtus V. Fontana raised the level of the street in order to facilitate the access to the villa, thus partially "burying" S. Pudenziana (the opposite nunnery was built at a later time).
The view is taken from the green dot in the 1748 map below. In the description below the plate Vasi made reference to: 1) Façade and bell tower of S. Pudenziana; 2) Villa Negroni (once Montalto); 3) Church and nunnery of Bambin Gesù; 4) Via Patrizia. The name of this street was already Via Urbana (with reference to Pope Urban VIII) at Vasi's time, but he preferred to use an older name of Latin origin Vicus Patricius, which meant that the patricians (the members of the noble class in ancient Rome) had their houses along this street.
2) is shown in more detail in another page.
The view in December 2009: (left) S. Pudenziana; (right) Bambin Gesù
The level of the street was raised to a higher level in the late XIXth century and now there are no longer steps leading to Chiesa del Bambin Gesù and S. Pudenziana is almost in a hole: the façade of this church shown in the plate was designed in 1585-99 by Francesco da Volterra (you may wish to see how it appeared in a 1588 Guide to Rome); in 1870 it was entirely replaced by a new one. The coat of arms of Chiesa del Bambin Gesù has lost its reference to Pope Clement XII.
(left) Portal; (centre/right) bell tower
According to tradition Pudente, a Roman senator, was converted by St. Paul, hosted St. Peter and turned his house into a church; as a matter of fact the original church was built by modifying a hall of the private baths (Terme di Novato) of the late IInd century Roman house. The church was renovated in the IVth century and probably a century later its apse was decorated with a very fine mosaic. Most likely at this time the church was dedicated or associated with Pudenziana, an assumed daughter of Pudente and sister of Prassede. The bell tower was added in the XIIIth century or slightly earlier (for a page on the bell towers of Rome click here).
Reliefs of the portal portraying (left to right) Sts. Pastore, Pudenziana, Prassede and Pudente and in the centre the Lamb of God
The medieval church was largely modified in the XVIth century and again during the 1870s by Cardinal Lucien Bonaparte; this led to some retouching of the medieval decoration of the door (which you can see in the image used as background of this page) and of the lintel; the five circular reliefs are among the finest examples of medieval sculpture in Rome; the two female saints are portrayed (according to Byzantine patterns) with a crown, rather than a halo; most likely also the two male saints wore a crown which was removed in the XVIth century. Pastore in Italian means shepherd and the reference to a S. Pastore is the result of the corruption of an earlier name of the building (Oratorio del Santo Pastore, a reference to Jesus as the Good Shepherd).
(left) Coat of arms of Cardinal Lucien Bonaparte; (right) grave inscription
The globes at the entrance of S. Pudenziana show a coat of arms with a royal crown under a cardinal's hat; a similar coat of arms was adopted by Henry Benedict, Cardinal of York, the last of the Stuarts (King Henry IX). In this case the crown is that of the Bonaparte and the coat of arms belongs to Lucien-Louis-Joseph-Napoléon Bonaparte, Prince of Canino and grandson of Lucien Bonaparte, one of Napoleon's brothers. He was appointed cardinal in 1868, at a time when Pope Pius IX relied on the support of his relative Emperor Napoleon III for defending the Papal State. Cardinal Bonaparte died in 1895 and was buried in the church.
(left-above) XIXth century relief portraying the Infant Jesus; details of the façade (left-below) and of the interior (right) which are attributed to Ferdinando Fuga
In XVIIth century Rome the access to schools was reserved to boys; girls received their education at home and only the wealthiest families were in a position to have a private tutor; in 1671 Congregazione del SS. Bambin Gesù, a congregation aiming at providing some basic education for girls was founded; at the beginning its premises were near Tor Margana, but the success of the initiative led to the construction of a large nunnery/school which included a church. Initially Alessandro Specchi, the architect of Porto di Ripetta was asked to design the new buildings, but his projects were too expensive and the commission was assigned to Paolo Buratti; at his death in 1734, Ferdinando Fuga, the preferred architect of Pope Clement XII, was asked to complete the church.
Today the complex is in bad need of being repainted: it still houses a school although a section of it has been turned into a sort of hotel.
Excerpts from Giuseppe Vasi 1761 Itinerary related to this page:
Chiesa di S. Pudenziana
Da s. Pio I. fu eretta questa chiesa nella casa di s. Pudente Senatore Romano padre della santa Titolare, per essere
stato in essa ricevuto il Principe degli Apostoli, e trattenuto molto tempo, essendovi tradizione, che ancora vi abbia
celebrato i divini Misterj; come se ne conserva la memoria in una cappella al medesimo Santo dedicata. Più volte è stata
ristaurata la chiesa da Sommi Pontefici, e Cardinali Titolari; l'ultima ristaurazione però fu fatta l'anno 1598. dal Card
Enrico Gaetani, il quale fecevi ancora la nobilissima cappella di s. Pastore, con disegno di Francesco da Volterra: il
bassorilievo sull' altare è opera di Pietro Paolo Olivieri, terminato però dal Mariani Vicentino; la prima statua a destra è
di un allievo del Guidi; quella, che siegue, d'Adamo Lorenese, l'altra è di Francesco Mari; e l'ultima di Carlo Malvasia;
gli Angioli sono de' medesimi, e li mosaici nella volta, li condusse Paolo Rosetti da' cartoni di Federigo Zuccheri; il
quadro di s. Pudenziana, e s. Prassede, che danno sepoltura ai santi Martiri, è opera creduta del Ciampelli, ed il pozzo è
quello, in cui la s. Titolare pose il sangue di tre mila martiri, che colle spugne raccoglieva nel vicino monte. La statua di
Gesù Cristo, che dà le chiavi a s. Pietro nella cappella contigua, è opera fatta in marmo dal Cav. Gio: Batista della Porta, e
le pitture nella volta sono del Cav. Baglioni; quelle però nell'altare maggiore sono di Niccolò Pomarancio, il quale fece
ancora le pitture nelle cappelle, che sieguono, fuorché alcune istoriette a fresco nella cappella di s. Pudente, le quali
sono del Nucci. Sisto V. la concedè ai monaci di s. Bernardo, i quali abitano nel monastero contiguo.
Chiesa e Monastero del Bambin Gesù
Incontro alla divisata chiesa è quello monastero colla chiesa eretta dal Pontefice Clemente XII. con disegno del
Cav. Fuga, nella quale si vedono de' quadri dipinti dal Cav. Benesiani. Queste religiose hanno per istituto particolare
d'istruire le fanciulle a fare bene la prima Comunione, e a dare il comodo per gli esercizj spirituali a donne oneste, e civili.
Next plate in Book 7: Chiesa di S. Prassede
Next step in Day 2 itinerary: Villa Negroni già Peretti
Next step in your tour of Rione Monti: Chiesa di S. Maria Maggiore