St. Philip is buried in the chapel to the left of the choir in a mother-of-pearl tomb under a copula supported by Sicilian alabaster. The church is filled with beautiful sacred art donated by patrons primary from the art period between 1620-1690.
The facade was designed by Faustolo Rughesi and completed in 1605. The inscription over the main door bears the dedication: “To the Virgin Mother of God and St. Gregory the Great“.
There are two statues in niches above the main door: Saint Gregory the Great on the left and Saint Jerome on the right. The inscription on the architrave names the facade’s donor: “Angelo Cesi, Bishop of Todi, erected this in the year of our Lord 1605.
The brick palazzo on the left of the church is called Casa dei Filippini and was built in 1650 using a design by Francesco Borromini as a residence for the Oratorians an order founded by St. Philip Neri in 1561.
This church has a beautiful painting by Peter Paul Rubens of “Saint Domitilla with St. Nereus and St. Achilleus.”
There is a magnificent painting over the main altar “Virgin and Child” by Peter Paul Rubens (1607). The removable oval painting of the Virgin covers an earlier fresco.The columns that flank the painting are giallo antico.
Rubens also painted St. Gregory the Great with Saint Maurus and Papius located in the presbytery. The relics of these Roman martyrs were brought to this church in about 1590 and placed beneath the main altar.
Another interesting aspect of the art in this church is the copy of the Caravaggio. One of my favorite Carravaggio paintings is “Deposition from the Cross” or The Entombment of Christ (1604). Unfortunately, this church has a 19th century copy of the original painting that was taken to Paris in 1797 and then the original was transferred to the Vatican Pinacoteca.
Allesandro Vittrice was the nephew of a friend of Saint Phillip. Vittrice is also known to have been the owner of Caravaggio’s The Fortune Teller.
In the Cappella Dell’Ascensione there is a beautiful painting of the “Ascension” by Gerlamo Muziano (1532-1592) flanked by columns of giallo antico.
I love the Assumption altarpiece “Assunzione” by G. Domenico Cerrini (1609-1681).
Saint Philip’s body was sent to this church seven years after his death.
The church was called “Vallicella” because it was originally built in the “little valley” of Rome by Pope Gregory I and is located on Corso Vittorio Emanuele.
Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Italy Travel Guides. Learn more about Rome at www.vino-con-vista.com.
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