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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.
Interior of the Basilica of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, the only Gothic church in Rome. The church houses the tomb of St. Catherine of Siena. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
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)
To the right of the neo-medieval church facade, admire the Palazzo Fonseca which is now the luxurious Grand Hotel Minerva. Stop in for a lovely Vino con Vista.
Lobby of the Grand Hotel Minerva
Grand Hotel Minerva in Rome ItalyInterior of the Grand Hotel Minerva in Rome Italy
Gian Lorenzo Bernini
‘s famous smiling elephant called “Pulcino della Minerva” supports one of Rome’s
smallest Egyptian obelisks that was escavated in the Domenican cloister and brought to Rome by Diocletian during his reign from 284-305. The Latin inscription at the base of the monument that was commissioned by Pope Alexander VII
says “A strong mind is needed to support solid knowledge.”
see filename (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Detail of the vault (one of the 4 sibyls : Sibyl of Delphi) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Bernini also has some interesting works inside the basilica including the funeral monument of Maria Raggi constructed in 1643. Before San Giovani dei Fiorentini was built, Minerva was the church of the Florentine
nation and houses tombs of nobles and citizens from Florence including Pope Urban VII
. Fra Angelico
and Pope Paul IV
. The tombs of two Medici popes Leo X and Clement VII are located in the choir area behind the altar.
Altar in Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Bernini’s monument to Maria Raggi
One of the fascinating aspects of sightseeing in Rome is visiting the churches to view an amazing spectrum of art.
There are over 900 churches in Rome Italy and they are the frequented by religious pilgrims and locals. These amazing churches are repositories of the relics of martyrs that are venerated within as well as priceless artistic treasures. The Gothic Basilica of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva
is located in Piazza della Minerva near the Pantheon
Rear view of the Pantheon from Santa Maria Sopra Minerva in Rome Italy
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.
Michelangelo’s statue of “Christ the Risen Redeemer” was started in 1519 and shipped unfinished from Florence in 1521. The bronze draping was added later.
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.
The Chapel of Saint Dominic has a painting byPaolo de Matteis and Benedict XIII’s tomb is protected by a lovely statue of “Purity” by Pieto Brracci on the right side of the ornate tomb.
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