Basilica di Sant'Agostino

Orientation & Geography

Europe, Italy, Rieti

Sant'Agostino is a church in Rome, not far from Piazza Navona. It is one of the first Roman churches built during the Renaissance. The construction was funded by Guillaume d'Estouteville, Archbishop of Rouen and Papal Chancellor. The façade was built in 1483 by Giacomo di Pietrasanta, using marble taken from the Colosseum. It is a fine, plain work of the early Renaissance style. The most famous work of art presently in the church is the Madonna di Loreto, an important Baroque painting by Caravaggio. The church also contains a Guercino canvas of Saints Augustine, John the Evangelist and Jerome; a fresco of the Prophet Isaiah by Raphael; and the statues of the Virgin and Child, by Andrea Sansovino and of the Madonna del Parto (Our Lady of Childbirth) by his pupil, Jacopo Sansovino. The latter sculpture is reputed by tradition to work miracles and was, according to a legend, based on an ancient statue of Agrippina holding Nero in her arms. In 1616, the 17th-century Baroque artist Giovanni Lanfranco decorated the Buongiovanni Chapel (in the left transept) with three canvasses and a ceiling fresco of the Assumption. The church also houses Melchiorre Caffà's sculpture St Thomas of Villanova Distributing Alms, completed by his mentor Ercole Ferrata. Pietro Bracci designed and sculpted the polychromatic tomb of Cardinal Giuseppe Renato Imperiali (1741). The church contains the tomb of Saint Monica, mother of Saint Augustine, and that of Fiammetta, lover of Cesare Borgia and a famous cortigiana. Sant'Agostino was once noted for the presence of a number of courtesans and prostitutes in its congregation. The Titulus S. Augustini is held by Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard since 2006. Furthermore, it is the station church of the first Saturday in Lent.