The Basilica of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva was built above the ruins of a temple to honor the goddess Minerva that was built by Gnaeus Pompey the Great around 50 B.C. to honor his Asian victories. The basilica is located in Piazza della Minerva. On the right side of the facade of the basilica look for inscriptions that mark the flooding of the Tiber River between 1422 and 1870 because this is the lowest point in Rome and was subject to frequent flooding. Some of the Tiber flood waters rose to as high as 65 feet.
The Dominicans began construction on the gothic church in 1280 and used Santa Maria Novella in Florence as their model. Above the main doorway’s triangular pediment is the coat of arms of the Dominican Pope St. Pius V (1566-1572)
Look for the trusty map inside the church to help you identify the key artwork in the basilica. In front of the altar you will find a staue of St. John the Baptist by Giuseppe Obici (1858) on the right and Michelangelo’s ”Risen Christ the Redeemer” on the Left.
- The churches of Rome (hotair.com)
Saint Catherine of Siena is also buried in the Basilica beneath the main altar; although her head is in the church of San Domenico in Siena. The monument was created by Isaia da Pisa in 1430. In 1939, Saint Catherine and Saint Francis of Assisi were proclaimed principal patrons of Italy and she was also proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1970.
Visit the Carafa Chapel of Saint Thomas Aquinas with beautiful frescoes by Filippino Lippi. I love the scene that depicts St. Thomas presenting Cardinal Carafa to the Blessed Virgin. The relics of St. Thomas were kept in this chapel until 1511, when they were moved to Naples.
In the Chapel dedicated to the Annunciation you can admire the “Annunciation” painting by Antoniazzo Romano. The Virgin is shown giving dowries to young girls who are kneeling with Cardinal Juan de Torquemada. The cardinal is buried nearby.
Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides about Italy. To learn more about Rome visit www.vino-con-vista.com