Santa Caterina a Magnanapoli

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S. Caterina a Magnanapoli, with the Torre delle Milizie in the background.

Santa Caterina a Magnanapoli is a 16th-century church in Rome. It is devoted to St. Catherine of Siena, and is located on the Quirinal Hill, in piazza Magnanapoli.

History[edit]

The first church was first built ca. 1575 and originally belonged to an adjacent convent (built ca. 1568 by Pope Pius V) of Dominican tertiary nuns, which today houses the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum of the Dominican Order. Construction of the present church began in 1608, initially at expense of Cardinal Scipione Borghese to a design by Carlo Maderno, and stopped first in 1613. Meanwhile, the monastery acquired the Torre delle Milizie in 1619.

Santa Caterina to the right, and the nearby Santi Domenico e Sisto to the left

When work restarted 1628, it was probably intended to continue according to Maderno's design, but he died the next year, and Giovanni Battista Soria was commissioned to complete the church. He made changes to Maderno's design, how much unknown, since the original plans are not known. Between 1631-1641, (when the present facade was completed. The Chigi family heraldic symbols of then Pope Alexander VII are featured in the balustrade.

The whole convent, except for the tower, was demolished in 1924. The Military Ordinariate, whose headquarters are adjacent to the church, took over the church, and it is now served by diocesan clergy. A restoration occurred in 1992.

Works of art[edit]

Ectasy of santa Caterina, by Caffà.
The demolished monastery of St. Catherine, on the left of the Torre delle Milizie.

In the corridor leading to the sacristy are remains of frescoes by Antoniazzo Romano and pupils, produced for the room of St Catherine of Siena and placed in a now demolished oratory behind the church some time after 1637. Among the saints shown as St Bridget of Sweden and St Catherine of Alexandria.

The style of the present façade, with two architectural orders, is in late Baroque. The interior has a single nave with three chapels on each side, with ornate decorations mainly from the 17th century with 18th-century additions. The sanctuary, for example, is richly decorated in Baroque style. In the dome is the The Glory of the Eternal Father by Francesco Rosa. The Rococo ceiling fresco is by Luigi Garzi, painted 1713, depicts the Glory of St Catherine. The tabernacle, made from lapis lazuli, agate, and gilded bronze, as well as the high altar were made in 1787 by Carlo Marchionni. Stucco decorations of side walls by Pietro Bracci depict St Rose of Lima and St Agnes of Montepulciano.

The interior is richly decorated with cantoria and monument by Giuliano Finelli. The sculptural group in coloured marble and stucco depicting the The Holy Spirit and the Ecstasy of St Catherine (ca. 1667) is by Melchiorre Caffà appears inspired by his mentor, Bernini, sculpture of The Ecstasy of St Theresa (ca. 1652). In the third chapel on the north side is the Madonna of the Rosary by Giovanni Battista Passeri. This is considered one of his best works.

A double staircase leading to the portico was built in the 20th century, when the Via Nazionale was laid out. By the stairs is the Crypt of the Fallen of the First World War, constructed in 1934 and dedicated to the priests who were killed in the war, with a bronze crucifix by Romano Romanelli.

References[edit]