Santa Maria dell'Orazione e Morte

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Santa Maria dell'Orazione e Morte.
Crucifixion by Ciro Ferri.

Santa Maria dell'Orazione e Morte (Saint Mary of the Prayer and Death) is a church in central Rome, Italy. It lies on Via Giulia between the Tiber and the Palazzo Farnese.

First built in 1575, the church was completely rebuilt by Ferdinando Fuga in 1733 using an elliptical plan.

Inside may be seen frescoes of St. Anthony Abbot and St. Paul of Thebes by Giovanni Lanfranco; these were removed and transferred to this church from a now-lost structure built by Odoardo Farnese. In the first chapel at the right is a Mystical marriage of Saint Catherine; in the main chapel is a Crucifixion altarpiece (1680) by Ciro Ferri. In the second chapel to the left is St Giuliana Falconieri Receives the Habit From St. Filippo Benizi (1740) by Pier Leone Ghezzi. In the first chapel to the left features an altarpiece of the Rest on the Flight to Egypt painted by Lorenzo Masucci.

Interior view.

Additionally, the church houses a chamber decorated with human bones; a large number of skulls, candelabras constructed of bones, and a large cross adorned with skulls are among the room's adornments. This chamber is located through a door to the left of the main altar and is rarely open to visitors.

Detail of human bones chandelier in chamber of Santa Maria dell'Orazione e Morte

Santa Maria was built by a confraternity that assumed responsibility for interring abandoned corpses in Rome. It is remarkable for the depictions of laureled skulls over the façade entrance and other death imagery. In this it has some of the morbid encrustations also seen in the Roman church of the Capuchins. Its charity was, and still is, supported by the Arciconfraternita di Santa Maria dell'Orazione e Morte, a purgatorial society dating to the 1560s. Burials were performed in their cemetery, once sited on the banks of the Tiber adjacent to the church. Architect Fuga and San Carlo Borromeo were members of the fraternity.


Coordinates: 41°53′40″N 12°28′11″E / 41.8945°N 12.4696°E / 41.8945; 12.4696