All images © by Roberto Piperno, owner of the domain. Write to email@example.com. Text edited by Rosamie Moore.
Page revised in January 2010.
Chiesa di S. Paolo alla Regola (Book 7) (Map C3) (Day 7) (View D8) (Rione Regola)
In 1756, when Giuseppe Vasi engraved this etching, this corner of Rome was a very modern one where XVIIIth century buildings had replaced a medieval quarter, leaving space also for a small square in front of the 1728 church of S. Paolo alla Regola.
Today the street has lost its former importance and it is almost a dead end, so one does not go to the small restaurant in the square by chance. A recent restoration has given a very new appearance to the church, whereas the nearby monastery shows the impact of time.
According to tradition St. Paul lived in this area (some ancient Roman houses have been found and can be visited under nearby buildings) and a church dedicated to him existed in this site since the XIth century; for a short period during the XVIth century it was a parish church; in 1619 it was assigned to the Sicilian branch of the Franciscan Third Order, which was under the protection of the King of Spain. This led to the construction of a large monastery (Collegium Siculum) and eventually to the decision of replacing the old church with a brand new one.The fašade is a work of Giacomo Ciolli and Giuseppe Sardi, to whom in particular is attributed the elaborate stucco decoration of its upper section.
The Christian Doctrine Fathers are a religious congregation founded in the late XVIth century to promote the education of children; Pope Benedict XIII reorganized the congregation and assigned S. Maria in Monticelli and the adjoining building to its members. The Christian Doctrine Fathers acquired importance after 1783 when the Jesuit Order was suppressed and they took over the management of some Jesuit institutions. The headquarters of the congregation are still in this building.
Palazzo Spada is definitely the missing plate in Vasi's Book III which covers the main palaces of Rome; he mentioned it and he talked about its decorations, the courtyard, the corridor of Borromini, but he did not show it.
The palace was built at the expense of Cardinal Girolamo Capodiferro in 1548-50, probably by Giulio Mazzoni who is known to have designed its complex stucco decoration; the central section of the fašade was decorated with a coat of arms of Pope Paul III, who died in November 1549 (a coat of arms of his successor Pope Julius III was placed in the courtyard). In 1632 the palace was bought by Cardinal Bernardino Spada; his heirs replaced the papal coat of arms with that of their family, but they did not touch the references to Cardinal Capodiferro i.e. the circular reliefs portraying a dog sitting next to a flaming column with the inscription Utroque Tempore (which means "at both times" - see also the image used as background for this page).
When Giulio Mazzoni was decorating the courtyard of Palazzo Spada, the Catholic Church was in the process of elaborating a response to the Reform, but the Renaissance love for the Classic World was still permeating the cultural circles of Rome. Cardinal Capodiferro did not see any contradiction between his role as a Prince of the Church and his decision to decorate his palace with the naked statues of the Greek pantheon.
Giulio Mazzoni was a pupil of Daniele da Volterra, who in turn was an assistant to Michelangelo; his stuccoes show the influence of the great master.
Cardinal Bernardino Spada enlarged the building, but he did not touch the courtyard and its sexually suggestive decoration; he did however enlarge the view one had from it; Virgilio Spada, the cardinal's elder brother, was a member of Oratorio dei Filippini and he knew well Francesco Borromini to whom are generally attributed the "tricks" which expanded the views from the courtyard and in particular the optical gallery, a short corridor which seems much longer; the fake fašade which was designed on the side of Palazzo Ossoli which stands opposite the entrance of Palazzo Spada provides a deeper perspective to a viewer standing at the centre of the courtyard.
Cardinal Spada spent many years in Bologna where he protected Guido Reni and il Guercino; his gallery of paintings in Palazzo Spada has been kept as it was.
Cardinal Capodiferro represented the pope to the King of France and he placed a coat of arms of King Henri II in the courtyard. When Cardinal Bernardino Spada bought the palace he commissioned a coat of arms which had an oval support similar to that of the king, but for the fašade opposite the palace he agreed on a mosso (Music: with animation/lively) design.
This small palace was built at the beginning of the XVIth century; its elegant design shows the hand of a talented architect, maybe Baldassarre Peruzzi. The tiny courtyard is worth having a look at. The palace is named after the Ossoli who acquired it in the XVIIth century.
S. Maria de' Macellari (o della Querce)
In 1507 Pope Julius II assigned a small church known as S. Nicol˛ de Curte and which was almost falling apart to the horse merchants who exercised their trade at nearby Campo de' Fiori; they came from Maremma and they were devoted to S. Maria della Querce, a sanctuary near Viterbo, which was built by the pope and his uncle Pope Sixtus IV. For this reason the name of the church was changed; a holm oak in the small square in front of the church is a reminder of S. Maria della Querce, the other name by which the church is known.
A few years later the church was assigned to the brotherhood of the butchers, (macellari, in modern Italian macellai) which still owns it and uses it for gatherings and celebrations (click here for a list of churches belonging to a guild). The nice fašade is a 1728-30 work by Filippo Raguzzini.
Excerpts from Giuseppe Vasi 1761 Itinerary related to this page:
Next plate in Book 7: Convento dei PP. Cappuccini
Next step in Day 7 itinerary: Chiesa dei SS. Vincenzo e Anastasio
Next step in your tour of Rione Regola: Monte di PietÓ