All images © by Roberto Piperno, owner of the domain. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org. Text edited by Rosamie Moore.
Page revised in November 2009.
Chiesa e Monastero dell'Immacolata Concezione di Maria (Book 8) (Map C2) (Day 4) (View C6) (Rione Sant'Eustachio), (Rione Colonna) and (Rione Campo Marzio)
Vasi opens Book VIII with one of the oldest nunneries of Rome, which was founded in the VIIIth century by Greek nuns, who fled from Constantinople. At the time there was a controversy in the Byzantine Empire about the veneration of sacred images and the Iconoclasts prevailed; the nuns opposed this course of action and they came to Rome carrying with them an image of Mary which was regarded as acheiropoieta (not painted by human hand).
The view is taken from the green dot in the 1748 map below. In the description below the plate Vasi made reference to: 1) Palazzo Nari; 2) Street leading to S. Maria Maddalena; 3) Street leading to Montecitorio. The map shows also 4) Immacolata Concezione in Campo Marzio; 5) S. Gregorio Nazanzieno; 6) Casa dei Preti della Missione; 7) Palazzo Casali. The dotted line in the small map delineates the border among Rione Sant'Eustachio (lower left quarter) Campo Marzio (top left quarter) and Rione Colonna (right quarters).
The only minor change relates to the decorations of the portal and of the window above it which have disappeared. A different kind of change relates to the fact that today the building is near two key institutions: Camera dei Deputati (Low Chamber) in Palazzo di Montecitorio and the residence of the Italian Prime Minister in Palazzo Chigi; the nunnery with the exception of the church was confiscated in 1873 and it now houses offices of Camera dei Deputati. This explains the presence of many policemen in the area.
XIXth century excavations made in the garden of the nunnery unearthed a column (which was used in 1854 for Colonna dell'Immacolata Concezione) and a small altar which is now located to the left of the entrance.
Immacolata Concezione is the second church of the nunnery: it is located inside a small and elegant courtyard which can be accessed from the entrance on the street and from the courtyard of the nunnery; this arrangement allowed the public to pray to the sacred image without causing distress to the secluded nuns (in the image used as background for this page you can see another view of the portico). Giovanni Antonio de' Rossi who designed the church in 1681-82, in the lack of a proper street fašade, paid a lot of attention to the view of the apse from Via della Maddalena.
According to tradition the Greek nuns carried with them also the body of St. Gregory of Nazanzius, a IVth century Patriarch of Constantinople and a strong supporter of the Nicene Creed (Nazanzius was a small town near Iconium, today's Konya). The first church of the nunnery was dedicated to the Virgin Mary and to this saint. Today it is not accessible by the public because it is inside the area belonging to Camera dei Deputati; it can only be seen from the entrance to the main courtyard of the nunnery. In 1505 during restorations to the floor of the church the body of the saint was found again and in 1580 it was moved to S. Pietro.
Cardinal Gregorio Naro (1581-1634) is the most famous member of this family; his aunt was sister-in-law of Pope Paul V; most likely he commissioned Bartolomeo Breccioli, a very minor architect, the renovation of houses belonging to the family between Piazza delle Coppelle and Piazza di Campo Marzio. The elaborate decoration of the portal and the balcony are a later addition. Notwithstanding the very attractive location of the palace, its current owners have not repainted it for a great many years.
On June 11, 1580 a solemn procession accompanied the body of St. Gregory of Nazanzius from Immacolata Concezione di Maria to S. Pietro; the event was depicted in a fresco by Matteo Bril and Antonio Tempesta in Cortile di S. Damaso in the Vatican palace; it is the only memory of the Renaissance appearance of Palazzo Casali which in the XIXth century was redesigned in a very ordinary way. However the main entrance is still decorated with medieval and baroque reliefs showing the heraldic symbols of the Casali.
The plate mentions the street leading to Montecitorio (Via del Vicario). A large
building on the northern side of this street is now occupied by offices supporting Camera dei Deputati. It was built in 1642 to house the monastery of Padri della Missione, a congregation founded by St. Vincent de Paul. It included SS. TrinitÓ delle Missioni, a church designed by Bernardo Della Torre in 1739-43 and which is now deconsecrated.
Next plate in Book 8: Monastero dello Spirito Santo
Next step in Day 4 itinerary: S. Maria Maddalena
You have completed your tour of Rione Sant'Eustachio!
Start your tour of Rione Colonna: next step: S. Lorenzo in Lucina
Start your tour of Rione Campo Marzio: next step: S. Nicola de' Perfetti