Chiesa di Santa Maria in Transpontina

Architecture & Buildings

Europe, Italy, Rome

Santa Maria in Traspontina (or Transpontina) is a Carmelite church in Rome, Italy. The shrine lies on the Via della Conciliazione, the main road of the Rione Borgo. Pope Alexander VI demolished an ancient Roman pyramid on the same site (the Meta Romuli, believed in the Middle Ages to be Romulus's tomb, and portrayed on the bronze doors to St Peter's Basilica and in a Giotto triptych in the Vatican Museums) for the construction of the first church. This church was then demolished during the pontificate of Pius IV (1559-1565) to clear the line of fire for the cannons of the Castel Sant' Angelo. Designs by Giovanni Sallustio Peruzzi (with contributions by Ottaviano Nonni and Francesco Peparelli) for a replacement church were in place by 1566, though the papal artillery officers insisted that its dome be as low as possible to avoid a recurrence of the previous problem. This meant that the new church's dome was built without a supporting drum. The new church was erected along the North side of Borgo Nuovo, which was at that time the main road of Borgo. It has four chapels to each side of the nave. The first on the right, is dedicated to Saint Barbara (the patron saint of gunners). This chapel has an altarpiece of Santa Barbara (c. 1597) by Cavalier d'Arpino, with frescoed scenes (1610-20) from the life of the saint by Cesare Rossetti. The second chapel has an Ecstasy of S. Canuto (1686) by Daniele Seyter, with frescoed ceiling and lunettes by Alessandro Francesi. The fourth chapel has a Madonna & St. John Evangelist (1587) by Cesare Conti with frescoes of the Passion (1649) by Bernardino Gagliardi. The fifth is dedicated to S.Alberto and the frescoed stories were by Niccolò Circignani. The crossing to the right, has an Apparition of the Trinity and 3 saints (1639) by Giovanni Domenico Cerrini. The main altar (1674) was designed by Carlo Fontana, and has a medieval icon. The statues (1695) around the altar are by Alessandro Rondoni, Giacomo Antonio Lavaggi, Vincenzo Felici, and Michel Maille. The chorus has canvases (1760) by Angelo Papi while the ceiling of the left crossing (1697) was frescoed by Biagio Puccini. The fifth chapel to the left has an altarpiece by Giovan Battista Ricci of Preaching by S.Angelo martire (1612) and stories of the saint. In the fourth chapel, a painting of the Ecstasy of S.Teresa (1698) by Antonio Gherardi while the third has a Flagellazion of Saints Peter and Paul by Ricci, the second S.Elia with St. Anthony Abbot and the blessed Franco da Siena painted by Giacinto Calandrucci. One chapel contains the two columns to which Peter and Paul were said to have been bound prior to their martyrdom in the circus of Nero nearby. This is the only church in Rome whose dome does not lie on a drum. The reason was to allow the gunners of Castel S. Angelo to exercise shooting on the Gianicolo Hill, which otherwise would had been hidden behind the dome. The current Cardinal Priest of Santa Maria in Traspontina is Archbishop Marc Ouellet.