This image of the church of Santa Maria della Consolazione in Rome is part of one of the panoramic images found on the PanoramicEarth.com Tour of Rome. There are over 100 images taken from around Rome linked to an interactive map.
Every church has a little history behind it’s founding, and the church of Santa Maria della Consolazione is no different. It is situated just behind the Forum, and is easily missed. I came across it on my way down from the Palazzo Conservatori.
The Death of the Condemned
The cliff above the church is thought to be the Tarpeian Rock from where condemned Roman criminals were tossed to their death in Roman times. The links between the condemned and this church continue. In 1385 a condemned nobleman, Giordanello degli Alberini, paid 2 gold florins for a picture of Mary to be placed on this site to provide consolation condemned criminals on their last journey. It was from this that the church and the road get their names. The first church was built here in 1470, and reconstructed between 1583 and 1600, during which time the Baroque façade was installed.
The picture here shows the fresco of Madonna della Consolazione above the altar painted in the 14th Century by Antoniazzo Romano. 2 chapels can be seen leading off to the right and left of the altar. The one on the left contains a marble relief of the Marriage of St. Catherine by Raffaello da Montepulo and dates from 1530. The church has a total of 11 side chapels owned by both local noble families and craft guild members.
In 1506 a hospital was built nearby, and it was here that that St Aloysius contracted the plague while caring plague victims. This is commemorated by a plaque on the wall past the church. The hospital was demolished in 1936 and the site is now the HQ of the fire brigade.
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