Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria in Rome

Museums and Galleries

Santa Maria della Vittoria is a titular church in Rome. The titular church is headed by a cardinal-priest, a member of the College of Cardinals, who is an honorary member of the Roman clergy. Santa Maria della Vittoria is under the care of Seán Patrick O'Malley, Cardinal-Archbishop of the City of Boston, who received the title of this church and the rank of cardinal in 2006. A plaque in the church bears the name and coat of arms of this cardinal.

History of construction

The church began to be built in 1605 in honor of St. Paul by the monks of the order of barefoot Carmelites, who have the status of beggars and are known for their ascetic life (constant prayer, silence, humility, renunciation of the blessings of the world, etc.). The project of the baroque cloister was developed by the artist-architect Carlo Maderno. The building was built for more than 10 years, and in 1620 it was re-consecrated in the name of the Virgin Mary, who brought victory to the representatives of Catholicism over Czech Protestants in a fierce battle near the White Mountain near Prague.

From 1624, the construction was led by Scipione Borghese, who took over the financing of the project. Thanks to this, in 1626 the construction of the church was completed. Interior decoration, the creation of decor lasted until the end of the 17th century.

Santa Maria della Vittoria suffered a fire in 1833, after which the building and its interior had to be restored.

Artistic features

Santa Maria della Vittoria is one of the examples of baroque buildings.

The temple is small in size, modest and simple on the outside, conveys the characteristics of the order, on whose initiative it was created.

Various means of creating an image of the interior were used in the interior decoration of the church:

  • Columns
  • Stucco decorations;
  • Bright mosaic with scenes from the lives of saints;
  • Wall painting;
  • Gold-plated interior elements;
  • Sculptural images.

The mural contains several images of the "Victorious Madonna", to which the temple is dedicated.

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Among the sculptures, attention is drawn to the "Joseph's Dream" by Domenico Guidi, created by the master from 1625 to 1701, as well as the tombstone over the grave of Cardinal Pietro Vidoni, who held his post during the construction of the church.

Of particular note is the exquisite decoration of the funeral chapel located in the western part of the church - a chapel commissioned by the cardinal (Federico Cornaro and named after him.

Carnaro Chapel

Of particular value is the artistic and ideological center of Cappella della Cornaro - "The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa" (Estasi di santa Teresa d'Avila) by Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini. The theme for the creation of the sculpture was also suggested by Cardinal Carnaro.

Saint Teresa of Avila is a Carmelite nun who lived in the 16th century in the Spanish city of Avila and was elevated to the rank of saints thanks to her ascetic life, the rejection of worldly goods. Teresa of Avila stood at the founding of the Barefoot Carmelite Order in 1593 as she fought to return to the order's original strict charter.

According to legend, Bernini created his masterpiece based on a plot from the life of Saint Teresa: during a dream, an angel in the guise of an ordinary person visited the saint and struck her with an arrow of pure gold, which had a tip of fire. Teresa of Avila, who had a literary gift, told about this vision in one of her letters, recalling the state of "sweet torment" from the blow of an angel right in the heart.

The 3,5 m high sculpture was created from 1647 to 1652. The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa is distinguished by the complexity and theatricality of the composition.

Ecstasy of Saint Teresa

Bernini's work is a synthesis of painting, sculpture, architecture and decoration.

The famous work of Bernini sculpted from the snow-white Carrara marble, in the background - the rays of bronze, covered with gold, representing the divine nature of the appearance of the angel Saint Teresa. Around the composition there is a frame in the form of an independent altar with colored marble columns. Behind the ensemble is a hidden window through which light penetrates and enhances the effect of the divine radiance of bronze rays. On the right and left sides of the composition, there are balconies made of marble, which depict representatives of the Carnaro family discussing the vision of Saint Teresa.

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Bernini uses white Carrara and colored marble, semi-precious stones, volumetric bright frescoes on the vault of the chapel depicting heaven. The master skillfully fits the sculpture into the painted interior of the church and achieves an unusual effect of sophistication, sophistication, conveys the complexity of the mystical image. The sculptural group is fenced off with railings, but they do not alienate the marble figures from the believers, but make the spectators a kind of participants in the events.

The figure of Teresa, located among the clouds, strikes with an unusual pose, conveying at the same time longing, and suffering, and illumination with divine light, sacred ecstasy - ecstasy from immeasurable love for God. In her notes, Teresa spoke of the pleasure she found in the "Divine Matrimony", that in visions God called her his wife, and himself - her husband.

The sculptor managed to convey spirituality, purity and innocence at the same time as sensuality. An angel in flowing clothes, on which the divine light from the rays set in the background glides, stands in an elegant pose, attracts attention with a "human" expression on his face, a slight half-smile expressing sympathy, admiration, foresight.

The sculpture conveys the vitality of the plot of a wonderful vision, emphasizes the idea that high spiritual experiences can be experienced by everyone. Looking at The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, the audience had to believe in the possibility of performing a religious feat by any of the believers. Surprisingly subtle from a psychological point of view, the image is expressive, conveys the momentary state of the characters and the eternity of the idea of ​​divine service.

Interesting fact

It is known that his personal experiences were reflected in the sculpture by Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini. He was madly in love with Constance Buonarelli, the young wife of his assistant.

He called her an angel, and he felt his love for her as a sacred ecstasy. In the image of Saint Teresa, the master reflected both the features of his beloved and his passionate love for her, in his view, having a divine origin.

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Opening hours and directions

The church is located at Via Venti Settembre, 17.

How to get there: Near the church there is a public transport stop, you can go by buses No. 61, 62, 85, etc. Santa Maria della Vittoria is easily accessible on foot from the Repubblica metro station.

The doors of the church are open to visitors every day from 7.00 to 12.00 and from 15.30 to 19.00.

Ticket price: admission is free.