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SS. Pietro e Marcellino (Book 3) (Map A3) (Day 1) (View C9) (Rione Monti) and (Rione Campitelli)

In this page:
The plate by Giuseppe Vasi
Today's view
SS. Pietro e Marcellino
SS. Quattro Coronati
Sacello della Madonna

The Plate (No. 50)

SS. Pietro e Marcellino

Book III is dedicated to Pope Benedictus XIV and SS. Pietro e Marcellino was built in 1753 during his pontificate. This explains Vasi's decision to include this minor church in the most important book. The plate shows us how unpopulated this area of Rome between S. Giovanni in Laterano and S. Maria Maggiore was. No obstacles disturbed the view in the distance of the church and monastery of SS. Quattro Coronati. The view is taken from the green dot in the small 1748 map below. In the description below the plate Vasi made reference to: 1) The street leading to Porta Maggiore; 2) The street leading from S. Giovanni in Laterano to S. Maria Maggiore; 3) The street leading to Colosseo; 4) SS. Quattro Coronati. The small map shows also 5) Sacello della Madonna. The dotted line in the small map delineates the border between Rione Campitelli (left) and Rione Monti (right).

Small ViewSmall View

Today

The view today

Now at the crossroad between Via Labicana and Via Merulana the church is some meters below the street level. SS. Quattro Coronati can still be seen behind the curtain of low buildings on the right. Via Merulana, the street linking S. Maria Maggiore with S. Giovanni in Laterano, was enlarged at the end of the XIXth century and this led to the pulling down of the church of S. Matteo a Via Merulana.

SS. Pietro e Marcellino

SS. Pietro e Marcellino

The church was designed by Marquis Girolamo Theodoli and it has an elaborated and curved dome contrasting with the very simple fašade. Small pillars with the heraldic symbols of the Pope are quite common, especially those with the eagles and dragons of Paulus V. The result however when applied to a very simple coat of arms like the stripes of Benedictus XIV is not that brilliant.

SS. Quattro Coronati

SS. Quattro Coronati

In the heart of Rome this place lives in the past. The church, erected in very remote times on previous buildings, sacked by Robert Guiscard, was restored and protected by towers and high walls like the monasteries on the Aventino. It is dedicated to four (Quattro)  martyrs of Diocletianus and the name (Coronati = crowned) is due to a painting where they are shown with laurel wreaths. The area was outside the scope of Renaissance and Baroque Rome and no attempts were made to brighten its medieval aspect. So today the nun who leaves the monastery, crosses the large inner courtyards and in a few moments gets into Rome, is actually moving through the centuries.

The Past

Sacello della Madonna

Sacello della Madonna

At the foot of the slope leading to S. Quattro Coronati there is what is likely the most ancient sacred image in the streets of Rome. The image is located along the street followed by the procession which accompanied the newly elected pope to S. Giovanni in Laterano for the formal ceremony during which the pope took possession of his charge. According to the legend at this spot a female pope (Papessa Giovanna) was caught by labour pains and her sex was discovered. The madonnella is most likely a XVth century painting but the existence of a sacred image located at this site is documented since the year 1000.
Opposite the sacred image there is an elegant XVIIIth century building.

Excerpts from Giuseppe Vasi 1761 Itinerary related to this page:


Chiesa de' SS. Pietro e Marcellino
Ne' primi secoli della Chiesa fu questa eretta, e poi da Gregorio III. rifatta; come pure da Alessandro IV., e finalmente da Clemente XI. fu conceduta a' monaci Siriaci di sant' Antonio. Il Pontefice Benedetto XIV. la rifece da' fondamenti col disegno del Marchese Teodoli e poi la concedŔ alle religiose di santa Teresa, che stavano presso s. Lucia alle botteghe oscure, dette le Ginnasie, le quali vi hanno fatto un ampio monastero, ed hanno ornata la chiesa con quadri moderni.
Chiesa de' SS. Quattro Coronati
Incontro alla riferita chiesa, e sull'alto del colle si vede quella de' ss. Quattro Coronati, eretta da Onorio I. che fu del 630. nel luogo, ove i ss. Fratelli soffersero il martirio. Da san Leone IV. furono collocati in questa chiesa i corpi de' detti Santi con altri cinque corpi di ss. Martiri, e Pasquale II. vi aggiunse un gran palazzo, in cui per qualche tempo abitarono i sommi Pontefici; ma poi da Pio IV. vi fu adattato un conservatorio per le povere zittelle orfane, e vi si mantengono sotto la cura di alcune religiose Agostiniane, fino a tanto che prendano stato. Nel portico evvi una piccola chiesa dedicata a s. Silvestro Papa, che dalle pitture e memorie, che vi si osservano, sembra assai antica. La chiesa poi fu riattata ed ornata di pitture dal Card. Mellino Vicario di Urbano VIII. Prima di entrare in chiesa, sonovi alcune pitture a fresco credute di Raffaello da Reggio; nel primo altare a destra si vede la nativitÓ del Signore stimata del Naldini, e le pitture nell'altare del Crocifisso sono di persona ignota; quelle per˛ nella tribuna con diversi santi Martiri sono belle opere di Giovanni da s. Giovanni. Il s. Sebastiano dall' altra parte Ŕ del Cav. Baglioni, e la ss. Annunziata, del suddetto Giovanni.

Next plate in Book 3: Ruine dell'antico Tempio dei SS. Pietro e Marcellino
Next step in Day 1 itinerary: Basilica di S. Giovanni in Laterano
Next step in your tour of Rione Monti: Chiesa di S. Clemente
Next step in your tour of Rione Campitelli: Chiesa di SS. Giovanni e Paolo

Go to    or to  Book 3 or to my Home Page on Baroque Rome or to my Home Page on Rome in the footsteps of an XVIIIth century traveller.


All images © 1999 - 2003 by Roberto Piperno. Write to romapip@quipo.it