Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo
||This article includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. (November 2011)|
|Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo|
|Ecclesiastical or organizational status||Basilica|
|Architect(s)||Baccio Pontelli, Andrea Bregno|
|Architectural style||Renaissance, Baroque|
|Direction of façade||W|
The Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo is an Augustinian church in Rome, Italy. It stands on the north side of Piazza del Popolo, one of the most famous squares in the city. The church is hemmed in between Porta del Popolo (the ancient Porta Flaminia) and the Pincio hill. Porta Flaminia was one of the gates in the Aurelian Wall as well as the starting point of Via Flaminia, the most important route from the north. The church contains works by several famous artists for example Raphael, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Caravaggio, Pinturicchio, Andrea Bregno, Guillaume de Marcillat and Donato Bramante.
In 1099, a chapel was built by Pope Paschal II to Our Lady over the tomb of the Domitii Ahenobarbi. Tradition has it that the site was haunted by Nero's ghost or demons in the form of black crows; therefore the pope chopped down the walnut tree sheltering the crows and built a chapel in its place. The name del Popolo ("of the people") probably derives from its funding by the people of Rome, but some sources say it comes from the Latin word populus, meaning poplar and referring to a tree located nearby. The chapel was enlarged and became a church by will of Pope Gregory IX in 1235, and was given to the Augustinian friars, who still oversee it, in 1250.
Santa Maria del Popolo was reconstructed by Baccio Pontelli and Andrea Bregno in 1472-1477 on the orders of Pope Sixtus IV and was given to the congregation of Lombard friars in Rome. The result of the reconstruction was an early and excellent example of Italian Renaissance architecture. In 1655-60 the façade was modified by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, who was asked by Pope Alexander VII to update the Renaissance church to a more modern Baroque style.
The apse was designed by Bramante. The oldest stained glass window in Rome can be found here, made by French artist Guillaume de Marcillat. Pinturicchio decorated the vault with frescoes, including the Coronation of the Virgin. The tombs of Cardinals Ascanio Sforza and Girolamo Basso della Rovere, both made by Andrea Sansovino, can also be found in the apse.
The Cerasi Chapel holds two famous canvases painted by Caravaggio - Crucifixion of St. Peter and Conversion on the Way to Damascus. Situated between the two works of Caravaggio is the altarpiece Assumption of the Virgin by Annibale Carracci.
Banker Agostini Chigi commissioned Raphael to design and decorate a funerary chapel in 1513. The dome is decorated with Raphael's mosaics Creation of the World. The chapel was later completed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. His additions include the sculptures Habakkuk and the Angel and Daniel and the Lion.
After Bernini's intervention, the church became a favourite burial place for the rich people of the city. Some of the people buried in the church are:
- Girolamo Basso della Rovere
- Giovanni Battista Gisleni
- Agostino Chigi
- Sigismondo Chigi
- Maria Flaminia Odescalchi Chigi
- Ferry de Clugny
- Jorge da Costa (1406–1508), Portuguese cardinal
- Savo Millini
- Ascanio Sforza
Dome of the Chigi Chapel by Raphael
The conversion on the way to Damascus, by Caravaggio
Crucifixion of Saint Peter, by Caravaggio
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Santa Maria del Popolo (Rome).|
- SM del Popolo: A Multimedia Presentation of the church and its setting, Australian National University
- Santa Maria del Popolo Video Introduction
- Santa Maria del Popolo, article and photos at Sacred Destinations
- Piazza del Popolo, at "Rome Art Lover"
- Fact Sheet Further Images and Links of Santa Maria del Popolo
- Santa Maria del Popolo, virtual tour with map and compass effect by Tolomeus