SantaMaria

There are over 25 churches in Rome dedicated to Mary. Santa Maria Maggiore is the largest
of the Marian churches, and is a Papal Basilica. Santa Maria in Trastavere is one of the oldest
churches in Rome (founded 220 AD), and may be the church where mass was first held openly.

Images from other Marian churches are displayed on the Assorted Churches page.

Click an image to open a larger version.
Use your back button to return to this page.

Santa Maria Maggiore

Exterior views
Altars
Salus Populi Romani
Pauline Chapel Monuments
Pauline Chapel Dome

13th c. Apse Mosaics
Tomb of Clement IX

Sistine Chapel Ciborium
Sistine Chapel Dome
Sistine Chapel Monuments
The Crypt of the Nativity
Rose Window and Frescoes

Santa Maria in Trastavere

Facade (wide shot)
Facade (detail)

12th c. Campanile Mosaic
12th century Facade Mosaic

Nave and Apse
Coffered Nave ceiling

12th and 13th c. Apse Mosaics

Medieval Narthex Frescoes
1st century Roman Mosaics
Early Christian Art

Sunburst3

Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Rome Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

Direct Link to the Gallery: Roman Churches: Santa Maria

There are a number of images in this section that are not yet on the Photoshelter site.
If an image you want is not yet uploaded, contact Ron Reznick (info at bottom of page).

PhotoshelterGallerySection


There are 18 Galleries in the Photoshelter Rome Collection

Sunburst3

Santa Maria Maggiore

Santa Maria Maggiore (St. Mary Major) is the largest Marian church in Rome
and the oldest Western church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It was founded in
352 AD by Pope Liberius and enlarged in 432 by Pope Sixtus III. Through its
several reconstructions it retains the character of a 2nd c. Roman basilica.

SantaMaria_Maggiore_Apse_7529


Santa Maria Maggiore Apse 7529
1500 x 1140 (439 KB)

The Apse at the rear of Santa Maria Maggiore, shot from Piazza dell’Esquilino.

Santa Maria Maggiore is also known as the Liberian Basilica and Our Lady of the Snow
based on a legend which states that Pope Liberus (352-366) founded the original church
atop the Esquiline Hill in a area sketched out in an inch of snow that miraculously fell in
the midst of the summer (August 4th, 352), after Liberius and the owner of the land
had simultaneous visions of Mary that night which told them that snow would fall
to show where she wanted a church to be founded. The legend appears to
have no historical basis, as there is no mention of it prior to 1000 AD.

SantaMaria_Maggiore_6390M


Santa Maria Maggiore 6390 M
1000 x 1600 (435 KB)

The facade of Santa Maria Maggiore (by Ferdinando Fuga, 1741-43) and the Romanesque campanile (14th c. bell tower, the tallest in Rome at 240 ft.) from the edge of Piazza Santa Maria Maggiore. The 18th century facade covers the 12th c. facade with a loggia which preserved the portico mosaics.

SantaMariaMaggiore_Campanile_detail_6390M


Santa Maria Maggiore Campanile detail 6390 M
1000 x 1600 (495 KB)

A close detail crop of the Romanesque bell tower, built in 1375-76 to celebrate the return of Pope Gregory IX to Rome from Avignon. It houses 5 bells, the oldest of which was cast in 1289. A bell by Guidotto Pisano, cast in the early 12th century, was removed to the Vatican Museum by Pope Leo XIII.

SantaMaria_Maggiore_MarianColumn_6386


Santa Maria Maggiore Marian Column 6386
960 x 1290 (462 KB)

Another view of the facade and the Marian Column (1614) from atop a building on Via Carlo Alberto (the wide shot is below). The Marian Column (designed by Carlo Maderno) was the model for many other Marian Columns which were erected in Catholic countries in thanks for the remission of the plagues of the Baroque period. The statue of Mary stands atop the last of the columns remaining from the Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine in the Forum Romanum. This angle also shows the domes of the Pauline (left) and Sistine Chapels which flank the 14th c. Romanesque bell tower.

SantaMaria_Maggiore_ViaCarloAlberto_6388


Santa Maria Maggiore Via Carlo Alberto 6388
1500 x 1092 (531 KB)

The wide shot down Via Carlo Alberti towards Piazza Santa Maria Maggiore and the Basilica.


Altars

SantaMaria_Maggiore_MarianAltar_7530M


Santa Maria Maggiore Marian Altar 7530 M
1000 x 1600 (436 KB)

A Marian Altar with stucco angels just inside the entrance.
I could not find information on this altar and the next one.

SantaMaria_Maggiore_Altar_7532M


Santa Maria Maggiore Altar 7532 M
972 x 1600 (395 KB)

The stucco angels and altar next to the Marian Altar.

SantaMaria_Maggiore_CrucifixionAltar_7535


Santa Maria Maggiore Crucifixion Altar 7535
800 x 1290 (381 KB)

The Cappella delle Reliquie (by Ferdinando Fuga, 1750) has 10 red porphyry columns (two of which can be seen above) and this late 14th-early 15th century wooden crucifix which used to be at the entrance to the church (where the tomb of Pope Clement IX is located... image below the Apse mosaic).

SantaMaria_Maggiore_PaulineAltar_7558M


Santa Maria Maggiore Pauline Altar 7558 M
989 x 1600 (706 KB)

The Borghese (or Pauline) Chapel was built by Pope Paul V between 1606 and 1612 (designed by Flaminio Ponzio) to house the Salus Populi Romani (Health of the Roman People, which research dates to the 7th c.). Pope Gregory carried it through Rome in 593 and prayed to Mary to end the Plague.

SantaMaria_Maggiore_PaulineAltar_detail_7558M


Santa Maria Maggiore Pauline Altar detail 7558 M
1000 x 1600 (730 KB)

Detail of the altar by Pompeo Targoni, with angels by Camillo Mariani, Stefano Maderno’s relief of Pope Liberius tracing the outline of the basilica in the miraculous summer snow, and the lunette frescoes by Giuseppe Cesari (Cavalieri d’Arpino), who also painted the spandrels of the dome (shown below).

SalusPopuliRomani_Vatican


Salus Populi Romani
(Vatican image)

As it proved impossible to shoot the icon due to reflections, above is the Vatican image of the icon (no linked image).

The five foot tall by 39” wide icon is painted on a cedar slab, and by legend was painted by St. Luke from life on a table Mary carried which was made by Jesus (although the dating of the icon makes this unlikely). Based on this legend, it was brought to Rome by Helena, Emperor Constantine’s mother.

After Pope Gregory carried the icon through Rome in 593, praying to it to end the plague which was devastating entire Roman families, legend says Archangel Michael appeared over the Mausoleum of Hadrian and sheathed his sword.

SantaMaria_Maggiore_PaulineChapel_7559M


Santa Maria Maggiore Pauline Chapel 7559 M
930 x 1600 (600 KB)

The Pauline (Borghese) Chapel is richly decorated with exquisite marble, sculptures, reliefs, columns and frescoes created by a host of artists representing the best working in Rome at the beginning of the 17th century. In the image above (showing the left side of the chapel) the statue of Pope Paul V was executed by Silla di Viggiu, and the statue of King David was created by Nicholas Cordier.

SantaMaria_Maggiore_PaulineChapel_7562M


Santa Maria Maggiore Pauline Chapel 7562 M
1000 x 1600 (581 KB)

Above is the right side of the chapel. The statue of High Priest Aaron was executed by Nicholas Cordier, and the statue of Pope Clement VIII on the right was sculpted by Silla di Viggiu. The Caryatids above the monuments (beside the reliefs) were created by Pietro Bernini, father of the great Baroque sculptor GianLorenzo Bernini. The putti in the frieze between reliefs were sculpted by Stefano Maderno.

SantaMaria_Maggiore_PaulineChapel_7559_7562M


Santa Maria Maggiore Pauline Chapel 7559 7562 M
1500 x 1290 (794 KB)

— Composite image will open in a second tab or window —

The composite shows the left and right sides of the chapel together.
Between the two sides is the altar of the Salus Populi Romani, shown earlier.

On the left is the tomb of Paul V, which was designed by Flaminio Ponzio.
The statue of Paul V was created by Silla di Viggiu. The bas-relief to the
right of the statue of Paul V was sculpted by Ambrogio Buonvicino. The
Caryatids and Coronation relief above were created by Ippolito Buzio,
and the putti in the frieze between tombs were by Stefano Maderno.

The center statues are King David and High Priest Aaron.
Both of these statues were sculpted by Nicholas Cordier.

On the right is the tomb of Clement VIII, also designed by Flaminio Ponzio.
The statue of Clement VIII was sculpted by Silla di Viggiu, reliefs include the
“Coronation of Clement VIII” (above the statue) by Pietro Bernini (father of the
famous Baroque artist GianLorenzo Bernini), who also sculpted the Caryatids.
Other reliefs were created by Ippolito Buzio, Antonio Vasoldo and Camillo Mariani.

SantaMaria_Maggiore_DomePaulineChapel_7563M


Santa Maria Maggiore Dome Pauline Chapel 7563 M
1500 x 1265 (726 KB)

The dome of the Pauline (Borghese) Chapel, with frescoes in the spandrels by Cavalieri d’Arpino.
The fresco inside the dome “The Assumption of Mary” was created by Ludovico Cardi (aka “il Cigoli”).


13th century Apse Mosaics and Papal Baldachino

SantaMaria_Maggiore_Baldachino_ApseMosaic_7539M


Santa Maria Maggiore
Baldachino Apse Mosaic 7539 M

1020 x 1610 (774 KB)

The Papal Baldachino, supported by Porphyry columns and entwined with gold leaves, stands in front of the 13th century apse with mosaics by the Franciscan monk Jacopo Torriti. On the left of the medallion, you can see part of St. Peter beside St. Paul and St. Francis of Assisi (left of the Porphyry column).

SantaMaria_Maggiore_ApseMosaic_7565M


Santa Maria Maggiore Apse Mosaic 7565 M
982 x 1600 (747 KB)

In the 1290s, Pope Nicholas IV (the first Franciscan Pope) had the apse moved back several meters and created the new mosaics for the Jubilee Year of 1300. Above the altar painting (Nativity, by Francesco Mancini, c. 1750), is the central mosaic depicting the Assumption of Mary.

SantaMaria_Maggiore_ApseMosaic_detail_7569M


Santa Maria Maggiore Apse Mosaic detail 7569 M
1200 x 1600 (733 KB)

Detail of the Papal Baldachino by Ferdinando Fuga (1742) and the central apse mosaic
 (medallion: “Coronation of Mary”; between the windows: “Assumption of Mary”, Jacopo Torriti).
The porphyry columns supporting the canopy (1800) have gold leaf by Giuseppe Valadier.

The term Baldachino (baldachin, or baldacchino in Italian) is a general term for a canopy over
an altar or throne. The name is derived from a luxurious cloth from Bagdad, which was often used
to make the canopies. The formal name in ecclesiastical architecture is Ciborium, but as that is also
the name used for containers or tabernacles used to house the Hosts of the Eucharist, many people use
the general term Baldachin or Baldachino for these canopies, as will I for those shown on these pages.

This shot and 7565 below were unbelievably challenging. While it doesn’t look like it from the images
due to the processing, there was not much light on the mosaics or this side of the Baldachino. Shutter
speed was 1/20 (at f/2.8), and the photographers among you will realize that this is a long time for a
hand-held shot if fine detail is important... even your heartbeat will cause blurring of the image.
Image 7539 was easier at 1/30 second (and even that is a long time for a hand-held shot).

SantaMaria_Maggiore_ApseMosaic_Detail_7565M


Santa Maria Maggiore Apse Mosaic Detail 7565 M
1350 x 1475 (1018 KB)

  Note the file size  —  highly detailed image 

The central medallion of Torriti's apse Mosaic depicts the Coronation of Mary,
seated on an Oriental throne with choirs of angels at the base of the medallion.
The medallion is surrounded by swirling Acanthus leaves, and on the right are
St. John the Baptist, St. John Evangelist, St. Anthony and Cardinal Colonna.
On both sides of the right window are mosaic Scenes from the Life of Mary.

Inscribed on the underside of the Apse Arch keystone is Constantine’s
Labarum (Chi-Rho, the first two Greek letters in Christ) with Alpha and
Omega, the first and last letters of the Ionic Greek alphabet. This was
an ancient symbol of Christianity, which can be seen on many of the
older mosaics (e.g. San Clemente and Santa Maria in Trastavere).

In front of the keystone is the Agnus Dei (the Lamb of God).

SantaMaria_Maggiore_Tomb_Clement_IX_7582M


Santa Maria Maggiore
Tomb Clement IX 7582 M

1000 x 1600 (459 KB)

The tomb of Pope Clement IX is located near the entrance of the basilica. It was originally located in the choir, thus the somewhat controversial overly-extended position of the hand and arm (to make the gesture more visible from the higher position). It was designed by Carlo Rainaldi and completed in 1669. The statue of the Pope is by Domenico Guidi, Charity (at left) is by Ercole Ferrata, and Faith is by Cosimo Fancelli.

SantaMaria_Maggiore_Ciborium_SistineChapel_7541


Santa Maria Maggiore Ciborium Sistine Chapel 7541
775 x 1290 (490 KB)

The Sistine Chapel of Santa Maria Maggiore (commissioned by Pope Sixtus V) has a magnificent gilded bronze Ciborium. Designed in 1590 by Giovanni Battista Ricci and executed by Ludovico Scalzo, it was designed in the shape of the Sistine Chapel (complete with dome) and is supported by four Angels which were created by Sebastiano Torregiani. Detail shots from the opposite side of the altar are shown below.

SantaMaria_Maggiore_Ciborium_SistineChapel_7548M


Santa Maria Maggiore Ciborium Sistine Chapel 7548 M
1200 x 1600 (754 KB)

Detail of the Ciborium from the interior of the Sistine Chapel.

The Sistine Chapel was built by Domenico Fontana from 1585 as the
Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, to house a tomb for Sixtus V and to
integrate with the Chapel of the Nativity below the altar, which houses the
13th century Oratory of the Nativity designed by Arnolfo di Cambio. The
Sistine Chapel (not to be confused with the one in St. Peter’s, which
was built by Sixtus IV) uses some spectacular marble taken from
the Septizodium (the enormous three-story water feature built
by Emperor Septimius Severus in 203 AD). It was in ruins
by the 8th c., and the remains were demolished by order
of Sixtus V by Domenico Fontana to use the stone for
this chapel and other structures built by Sixtus V.

SantaMaria_Maggiore_Ciborium_SistineChapel_detail_7548M


Santa Maria Maggiore Ciborium Sistine Chapel detail 7548 M
1000 x 1600 (651 KB)

A tighter crop showing the remarkable detail of these superb sculptures.

SantaMaria_Maggiore_DomeSistineChapel_7544M


Santa Maria Maggiore Dome Sistine Chapel 7544 M
1500 x 1209 (919 KB)

  Note the file size  —  highly detailed image 

The interior of Fontana’s dome over the Sistine Chapel,
with frescoes by Cesare Nebbia and Giovanni Guerra.

SantaMaria_Maggiore_DomeSistineChapel_7546M


Santa Maria Maggiore Dome Sistine Chapel 7546 M
1500 x 1225 (849 KB)

  Note the file size  —  highly detailed image 

I shot this dome from two angles to allow viewing of most of the frescoes.

SantaMaria_Maggiore_PiusV_SistineChapel_7549M


Santa Maria Maggiore
Pius V Sistine Chapel 7549 M

930 x 1600 (584 KB)

Tomb of Pope Pius V, by Pierre le Gros the Younger (1698). The reliefs depict Papal Wars such as the "Battle of Lepanto" and "Count Sforza Victorious over the Heretics". The body of the Pope is displayed in the glass-fronted coffin.

SantaMaria_Maggiore_SixtusV_SistineChapel_7552M


Santa Maria Maggiore
Sixtus V Sistine Chapel 7552 M

954 x 1600 (574 KB)

Tomb of Pope Sixtus V, by Giovanni Antonio Paracca (1591). Unlike the reliefs of Pius V, the reliefs around Sixtus V show scenes of the Papal States at peace. Sixtus V is depicted with the tiara removed, kneeling in prayer, facing the altar and Ciborium (unlike gestures of blessing of other Papal tombs).

SantaMaria_Maggiore_Stairs_SistineChapel_7578


Santa Maria Maggiore Stairs Sistine Chapel 7578
1500 x 1092 (593 KB)

One of the double stairways leading down to the Chapel of the Nativity and the Nativity Oratory
of Arnolfo di Cambio, where St. Ignatius of Loyola gave his first mass. Note the magnificent marbles
used in the construction. These were taken from the Septizodium of Emperor Septimius Severus which
was demolished by Domenico Fontana under the orders of Pope Sixtus V to make use of the stone.
The existing Nativity Oratory was moved into the crypt when Domenico Fontana built the Chapel.
It houses what may be the oldest Nativity sculptures in existence, a series of high-reliefs by
Arnolfo di Cambio, created between 1288-1291 at the order of Pope Nicholas IV.

SantaMaria_Maggiore_PiusIX_SistineChapel_7576


Santa Maria Maggiore Pius IX Sistine Chapel 7576
1500 x 1092 (421 KB)

At the base of the stairs, this statue of Pope Pius IX kneels in the Crypt of the Nativity.
It was sculpted by Ignazio Jacometti in 1880 and placed in the crypt by Pope Leo XIII.

SantaMaria_Maggiore_RoseWindow_Frescoes_7579


Santa Maria Maggiore Rose Window Frescoes 7579
1500 x 1150 (635 KB)

The Rose Window (1995) was created by Giovanni Hajnal. It depicts Mary as a link between the
Old Testament (represented by the seven-branched Menorah of the Temple of Solomon) and the
New Testament (represented by the Chalice of the Eucharist). The contemporary character of the
Rose Window has caused some controversy. The frescoes on either side of the window depict
scenes from the Life of Mary, and below the frescoes are two of the 5th century nave mosaics.
The frescoes were painted over the windows walled up when the facade was rebuilt in 1743.

The gilding in Santa Maria Maggiore was created from the first gold brought to Europe from the
New World. The gold was given to Pope Alexander VI (Borgia) by Isabella and Ferdinand of
Spain in return for the Pope confirming ownership of the “found” lands, and their hope of an
alliance between the Papal States and Spain (but Alexander allied with France instead).
The gilded-wood frieze below the ceiling depicts cupids riding bulls (the Bull was the
symbol of the Borgia family, and Alexander VI (Borgia) was involved with the project
to gild the ceiling and structures (pilasters, friezes, capitals, and other ornaments)
 

Return to the top of this page

Sunburst3

Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Rome Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

Direct Link to the Gallery: Roman Churches: Santa Maria

There are a number of images in this section that are not yet on the Photoshelter site.
If an image you want is not yet uploaded, contact Ron Reznick (info at bottom of page).

PhotoshelterGallerySection


There are 18 Galleries in the Photoshelter Rome Collection

Sunburst3

Santa Maria in Trastavere
(also spelled Trastevere)

SantaMaria_inTrastavere_7011


Santa Maria in Trastavere 7011
1500 x 1140 (345 KB)

The facade of Santa Maria in Trastavere in the waning light before nightfall.
The palazzo (left) was originally occupied by the friars of San Paulo fuori le Mura
who lived there during the summer, when their monastery was attacked by mosquitos.

SantaMaria_inTrastavere_7019M


Santa Maria in Trastavere 7019 M
1000 x 1600 (328 KB)

Detail of the portico, central facade mosaic and campanile.

Santa Maria in Trastavere is one of the oldest churches in Rome, and is possibly the first in which mass was openly celebrated after the end of the Imperial Persecution.

A Christian house-church was founded here in 220 by Pope St. Callixtus, after Emperor Septimius Severus settled a dispute between a tavern owner and Christians by saying that he “would rather it belong to those who honor God, whatever their form of worship”, but ancient sources state that the titulus S. Mariae was founded in 112 by Pope Alexander.

In 340, Pope Julius I rebuilt the titulus on a larger scale, and it became the titulus Callisti et Iuliani to honor his patronage, one of the original 25 parishes of Rome. Titulus refers to an early Christian church ascribed to the patron or property owner.

The church was restored after the Sack of Rome in 410, and again in the late 8th c. by Pope Hadrian. In the early 9th c., Pope Gregory IV added the crypt to house the bodies of Popes Callixtus, Julius I and Cornelius after their remains had been translated from the Catacombs. In 1140-1143, Pope Innocent II razed the church to the ground (along with the newly constructed tomb of his former rival Pope Anacletus II) and arranged for his own burial on the spot of that tomb.

Pope Innocent II may have been better named “Vicious”.

Pope Innocent II reconstructed the church on the existing foundations (using materials he removed from the Baths of Caracalla), and renamed it Santa Maria trans Tiberim.

The facade was rebuilt in 1702 by Carlo Fontana, who also created the four Baroque statues of Sts. Callixtus, Cornelius, Julius, and Calepodius. The campanile is from Innocent II’s 12th century rebuild, and has a 12th c. Byzantine mosaic of the Madonna and Child under a baldachino below the bell.

SantaMaria_inTrastavere_Campanile_7008


Santa Maria in Trastavere Campanile 7008
795 x 1290 (276 KB)

The campanile and 250 year-old clock
exposed for the mosaic (detail at right).

Trastavere_Campanile_Mosaic_7008c


Trastavere Campanile Mosaic 7008c

(detail crop — no linked image)
 

12th_c_Mosaic_Santa_Maria_Trastevere_M


12th century Mosaic Santa Maria Trastevere M
2100 x 473 (549 KB)

Detail of the 12th century facade mosaic, an early example of Mary nursing the Child Jesus.
Several art historians think that this was restored by Pietro Cavallini in the late 13th century.
The current depiction is different than the original, possibly showing Roman virgin martyrs.
The subject now depicted is the Wise and Unwise maidens. Virgin Mary is in the center,
with two anonymous donors kneeling at her feet; above her: Agnus Dei (Lamb of God).
The maidens on the right side are not wearing crowns, and have let their lamps go out.

SantaMaria_inTrastavere_Nave_6967


Santa Maria in Trastavere Nave 6967
776 x 1290 (431 KB)

The granite columns along the nave are from the ruins of the Baths of Caracalla. The Ionic and Corinthian Capitals are either from the Baths of Caracalla, or from a nearby Temple of Isis as described in the caption of the image to the right. The mosaics between the windows by Pietro Cavallini (1291) illustrate scenes from the Life of the Virgin. The main scene in the apse vault is “The Coronation of the Virgin” (c. 1140). Detail of the apse area is shown at right, and closeups of the apse mosaics are further below, with descriptions.

SantaMaria_inTrastavere_Apse_6942


Santa Maria in Trastavere Apse 6942
960 x 1290 (498 KB)

The column capitals in the nave are either from the Baths of Caracalla or from the Temple of Isis on the Janiculum. 19th century scholars identified the faces on the columns as Isis, Serapis and Harpocrates (Isis was the Egyptian goddess of motherhood and fertility who spread throughout the Hellenistic and Roman world; Serapis was a synthesis of two gods, created by Alexander the Great to try to unite the Egyptians with the Hellenistic conquerers. Serapis was created by selecting a Greek-style statue of a powerful, seated man as the idol, and proclaiming it the equivalent of the highly popular god Apis. Named Osiris-Apis (later Serapis), he was said to be Osiris in full, not just his Ka (life force); Harpocrates is the Greek god of Silence, adapted by the Greeks from the Egyptian child-god Horus. When Pope Pius IX heard this he had the pagan faces hammered off the columns (1870).

SantaMaria_inTrastavere_NaveCeiling_6937


Santa Maria in Trastavere Nave Ceiling 6937
814 x 1290 (733 KB)

Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini commissioned Domenico Zampieri to create this coffered ceiling. Domenichino, along with Guido Reni, was the premiere painter in Rome at the turn of the 17th c. (Caravaggio left Rome in 1606). In 1616, he designed the rather complex ceiling (completed in 1617) and painted the central coffer with the “Assumption of the Virgin”.

SantaMaria_inTrastavere_NaveCeiling_detail_6937M


Santa Maria in Trastavere Nave Ceiling detail 6937 M
1000 x 1600 (1020 KB)

  Note the file size  —  highly detailed image 

Coffered ceilings like this were popular from the late Renaissance through the Baroque and Mannerist periods, and this is an exceptional example. This was a very difficult overhead hand-held shot at 1/15 second (at f/2.0).

SantaMaria_inTrastavere_ApseMosaics_6947M


Santa Maria in Trastavere Apse Mosaics 6947 M
1000 x 1600 (781 KB)

The primary mosaic in the vault of the apse was created in 1140-48 during the rebuild by Innocent II. The vault mosaic depicts the “Coronation of the Virgin” (descriptions at right).

Coronation of the Virgin” mosaic, left to right:

       Pope Innocent II holding a model of the church;
       St. Lawrence and Pope St. Callixtus;
       Mary and Jesus Enthroned, with the hand of God
         emerging from a wreath overhead
       St. Peter, Pope St. Cornelius, Pope St. Julius, and St.
         Calepodius
       The frieze below depicts the Lamb of God surrounded
         by the disciples.

The frieze below the Coronation mosaic depicts 12 sheep(Disciples) surrounding the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God).

All of the mosaics below the sheep and outside of the apse vault area are the work of Pietro Cavallini (1290-1291), depicting Scenes from the Life of Mary. These mosaics break with Byzantine tradition in their use of a wide palette of color and more realistic shapes (predating the frescoes of Giotto which established Renaissance painting styles).

The mosaic left of the central apse window is a Nativity scene, and the one to the right of the window is the ”Gifts of the Magi” (visit of the Three Wise Men to the Infant Jesus 12 days after birth). Below the central window of the apse is the Dedication mosaic. Cavallini depicted Saints Peter and Paul presenting the donor of the mosaics (Bertoldo Stefanaschi) to the Virgin Mary, who is represented in a rainbow-framed medallion.

At the top right outside of the arch is a mosaic of the Prophet Isaiah. Above the Prophet Isaiah is the Angel of Matthew. On the opposite side of the outside of the arch is the Eagle of John, which can be seen in the images below.

On the keystone of the arch is an ornate cross with the Greek letters Alpha and Omega (Omega represented as a W) and on the underside of the keystone is the Chi-Rho, an early Christian symbol using the first two Greek letters of Christ.

SantaMaria_inTrastavere_ApseMosaics_6946


Santa Maria in Trastavere Apse Mosaics 6946
1500 x 1092 (803 KB)

The landscape image shows additional Cavallini mosaics outside the Apse.

Left of the sheep, below the Prophet Isaiah, is Cavallini’s “Birth of the Virgin Mary”.

Pietro Cavallini predated Giotto di Bondone of Florence, who is generally credited with
ending the Byzantine style of ‘flat’ representation of space and rediscovering naturalism
and the use of perspective, beginning the Renaissance style of painting. The concepts of
perspective and naturalism were present in these mosaics, and in recently rediscovered
frescoes of Cavallini’s in Santa Maria in Ara Coeli which were thought to have been lost.
Many of Cavallini’s works have been lost over the years, because he was considered to
be the best fresco artist of his day and worked on the most prestigious churches, which
were also the ones likely to be renovated, causing his work to be repainted or otherwise
destroyed. The recent discoveries are likely to cause the rewriting of art history books.

SantaMaria_inTrastavere_ApseMosaics_detail_6946


Santa Maria in Trastavere Apse Mosaics detail 6946
1322 x 1290 (838 KB)

A large crop showing detail of the 12th century vault mosaic of the Coronation of the Virgin.
Note the Eagle of John, top right, and the garlands of flowers and fruit adorning the arch.

Annunciation_SantaMaria_inTrastavere_6985


Annunciation Santa Maria in Trastavere 6985
1296 x 1290 (621 KB)

14th-15th c. Annunciation fresco in the Narthex (portico).

Annunciation_SantaMaria_inTrastavere_6997


Annunciation Santa Maria in Trastavere 6997
1500 x 1175 (792 KB)

These paintings are rather badly damaged from
weathering, but this Annunciation (Gabriel at right)
has been attributed to Pietro Cavallini, late 13th c.
or early 14th century (based on the character of the
figures and similarities to his mosaics in the apse).

RomanMosaic_SantaMaria_inTrastavere_6956


Roman Mosaic Santa Maria in Trastavere 6956
1418 x 1500 (668 KB)

1st century Roman Mosaic from Palestrina: Gallinules (Coots), Mallards and Snails.

RomanMosaic_SantaMaria_inTrastavere_6963M


Roman Mosaic Santa Maria in Trastavere 6963
1000 x 1600 (676 KB)

1st century Roman Mosaic from Palestrina
(Seaside scene with Fishermen and Dolphins)

Madonna_Child_SantaMaria_inTrastavere_6974


Madonna Child Santa Maria in Trastavere 6974
869 x 1290 (544 KB)

A late medieval Byzantine-style portrayal of the
Virgin Mary and Child, with ornately gilded halos
and accents on the clothing (the Christ Child is
holding a gilded ball-shaped object as well).

NativityScene_SantaMaria_inTrastavere_6990


Nativity Scene Santa Maria in Trastavere 6990
1500 x 1175 (524 KB)

A Nativity Scene in the corridor leading to the Sacristy.

Return to the top of this page

Sunburst3

Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Rome Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

Direct Link to the Gallery: Roman Churches: Santa Maria

There are a number of images in this section that are not yet on the Photoshelter site.
If an image you want is not yet uploaded, contact Ron Reznick (info at bottom of page).

PhotoshelterGallerySection


There are 18 Galleries in the Photoshelter Rome Collection

Sunburst3

Return to the Churches index page

Churches_Section_display

Open the Master Index on the Rome Select page

RomeSelect
Content_
Contact_RR