Santa Maria del Popolo is a notable Augustinian church located in Rome. It stands to the north side of the Piazza del Popolo, one of the most famous squares of the city, between the ancient Porta Flaminia (one of the gates of the Aurelian Walls and the starting point of the Via Flaminia, the road to Ariminum (modern Rimini) and the most important route to the north of Ancient Rome) and the Pincio park.
In 1099, a chapel was built by Pope Paschal II to Our Lady, over a tomb of the Domitia family. 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 church 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 became a church by will of Pope Gregory IX, and given to the Augustinians, who still oversee the church, in the first half of 13th century.
Santa Maria del Popolo was reconstructed by Baccio Pontelli and Andrea Bregno in 1472-1477, commissioned by the association of the Lombards of Rome, creating an excellent example of Italian Renaissance architecture. In 1655-60 the facade 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 church contains not only the Cerasi Chapel canvases of Caravaggio (Crucifixion of St. Peter and Conversion on the Way to Damascus) and an Assumption of the Virgin by Annibale Carracci, but also frescoes by Pinturicchio, sculptures by Andrea Bregno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini (Habakkuk and the Angel and Daniel and the Lion). The Chigi Chapel, the private chapel of banker Agostino Chigi, was designed by Raffaello Sanzio. The dome is decorated with Raphael's mosaics Creation of the World.
After Bernini's intervention, the church became a favourite site of burials of rich people of the city. Among the others, the banker Agostino Chigi and the Cardinal Savo Millini have their tombs here.
- Giovanni Battista Gisleni
- Agostino Chigi
- Sigismondo Chigi
- Maria Flaminia Odescalchi Chigi
- Ferry de Clugny
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Santa Maria del Popolo|
- 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
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