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 Essential Architecture-  ROME

S. Maria Della Pace


Donato Bramante


Rome, Italy


1478 to 1483


Italian Rennaisance


masonry, cut stone 


  Notes two-tiered loggia in cloister, 1500-1504. 
  Cloister designed by Bramante.
  Facade. designed by Pietro da Cortona(1596-1669).
Santa Maria della Pace
Our Lady of Peace
Piazza Santa Maria della Pace / 5 Vicolo del Arco della Pace

Church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. 

The first church here, built in the Middle Ages, was the church is the aquarellari, the water-salesmen who provided casks of water from the Tiber to parts of Rome that had no direct water supply.

The present church was built by Pope Sixtus IV, with construction starting in 1482, after he had made a vow to build a new church here if peace was restored between the Papal States and Florence, Milan and Naples. It is said that the site was picked because a drunken soldier had stabbed a statue of the Madonna in the breast, and it had started bleeding; or that a stone was thrown at the image that hangs over the high altar, which started bleeding. The architect was Baccio Pontelli. 

It was restored in the Baroque style by Pietro da Cortona, who was hired by Pope Alexander VII, in the years 1656-1667.

The church became very popular after Pope Alexander VII had restored it. For a long time, it was the only church in Rome that offered Mass in the afternoon on a regular basis.

The current titular priest of the church is H.E. Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa, who was appointed on February 21, 2001.

The façade and the semi-circular porch is by da Cortona, constructed 1656-1661. The portico, and the Baroque style, is reminiscent of ancient Roman architecture. The approach to the church was originally through a narrow street, but this led to problems when the church became popular. Da Cortona has several houses demolished to design the Piazza Santa Maria della Pace.

The cloister, which can be seen even when the church is closed, is by Bramante, built 1500-1504. It is one of his first works in Rome.

The plan of the church is octagonal. It has a narrow nave, and the sanctuary is small.

A venerated painting of the Blessed Virgin and the Divine Child hangs over the high altar. It used to hang in the porch of St Andrew's of the Watercarriers. The high altar from 1614 is by Carlo Maderno, and was designed specifically to enshrine the painting. The choirwas decorated by Albani, 1612-1614.

In the Capella Chigi, the first chapel on the right-hand side, is a fresco from 1514 by Raphael of the four Sibyls; Luma, Persia, Phrygia and Tibur, each receiving a revelation from an angel. Raphael died before the chapel was finished, and work was continued by Sebastiano del Piombo. Timoteo Viti, a pupil of Raphael, painted the four Prophets Habbakuk, Jonah, David and Daniel. The painting over the altar, the Deposition, is by Cosimo Fancelli. The chapel was ordered by Agostino Chigi, the 16th century banker.

The Cappella Ponzetti, to the left by the main entrance, has an altar dedicated to Sts Bridget and Catherine of Sweden. Above the altar is a painting of the Madonna flanked by the two saints, made by Baldassare Peruzzi in 1516. The donor, Fernando Cardinal Ponzetti, kneels before St Bridget. The cardinal was murdered by German mercenaries during the Sacco de Roma in 1527.

In the second chapel on the right-hand side of the nave is a chapel with marble decoration by Michelangelo. Peruzzi has also painted the Presentation of Mary - to see this you may have to move around a bit to find the best possible angle, since the light is dim. 

Opposite this is the Capella Cesi, designed by Antonio da Sangallo in 1525.

Figures of Strength and Prudence over the arch, and Peace and Justice on the entrance wall, are by Cosimo Fancelli.

Special notes
The church is open only for Mass in the morning (a schedule is posted by the door), but it is possible to ask the caretaker who lives in the adjacent cloister to open it for you at other times. There is an admission fee at the church, and although it is not enforced I enourage you to pay if possible. 
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