Friday, August 7, 2015

A lost trasure... the Church of Sant'Omobono in Rome.

The Church of Sant'Omobono in Rome is located right at the foot of the Capitoline Hill, in the Rione Ripa, in the area of ​​the Foro Boario where the temples of Fortuna, Mater Matuta and the Porta Triumphalis were located Between the 30s and 60s of the XX century these structures were excavated - in order to do this most of the buildings in the historical district were demolished - the ruins are still visible in the archaeological area of ​​Sant'Omobono. The foundations of the Church are precisely set on the ruins of the temple of Mater Matuta. The first early Christian church on this site dating back to the sixth century was originally dedicated to San Salvatore in Portico - with reference to the near Portico d'Ottavia. Between the XII and XIII century it was restored and repaved in the Cosmatesque style. 

The present church dates back to 1482, rebuilt over the Medieval church thanks to a legacy of Stefano Satri de Baroniis (encompassing most of his entire estate), whose fine Renaissance tomb is preserved inside. In 1575 the church was given to the then '' Università dei Sarti " (Brotherhood of Tailors) and dedicated to the homonymous patron; Sant'Omobono. The Brotherhood soon enriched the church with decorations and altars - later also joined the brotherhoods of Calzettai and those of Sartori and Giubbonari.

The facade of the late sixteenth century (completed in 1574) is covered in bricks and presents itself divided into pilasters, with central eye and the tympanum, under which the inscription "IN HON B. MARIAE V. AC SS. HOMOBONI ET ANTONII PAD "allows us to recognize the dedication to the Blessed Virgin Mary, in Sant'Omobono and St. Anthony of Padua. On either side of the portal we can see two empty niches, originally intended to house the statues of St. Stephen and St. Alexis (St. Stephen as a dedication to the donor and St. Alexis in memory of the near hospital). On the dome of the apse is placed a streamer adorned with a pair of open scissors, emblem of the University of Sarti. The building has a single nave with an irregular polygonal apse covered by a dome, it has a fine cosmatesque floor and in the center of the coffered ceiling, there is a tempera painting of C. Mariani, depicting the Coronation of the Virgin between SS. Omobono and Antonio. On the left wall of the church the tomb of Stefano Satri de Baroniis, his wife Maddalena degli Arlotti and son Giovan Battista - this remarkable Renaissance tomb of strong classical inspiration is of an unknown Roman sculptor of the second half of the fifteenth century. The inscription reads: STEHANO SATRI DE BARONONILIS CIVI ROM CONIUGI CARISSIMO BASILICE HUIUS INSTAURATORI EIUSDEMQ HONOR FRUCTUUMQ DONATORI AC JOHANNI BAPTISTE UTRIUSQ FILIO DULCISS OLIM VITA FUNCTIS MAGDALENA DEARLOCTIS UXOR PIENTISS VIVENS SIBIQ MORITURE DEINCEPS POSUIT. In his second testament (4 March 1483) he leaves the sum of thirty ducats for the erection of "unum sepulgrum marmoreum" inside the church - he also indicates the position "(...) ad manum dextram in yntroytu dicte ecclesie et ubi dictus testator alias desingniavit." Today, however, the monument is located on the left wall, at the center, and we cannot determine whether it has been moved, or if there was a change of the will of the testator during the construction. The exact date of the death of Stefano Satri occurred in May 1483 and probably soon after his wife Maddalena proceeded to fulfill the will of her husband with the erection of the tomb, where she wanted to be portrayed in the family group, although still alive .

There is also an interesting Renaissance fresco in the apse by Pietro Turini, a scholar of the Roman master Antoniazzo Romano, it represents the "Saviour in glory and the Enthroned Madonna and Child with Sts. Stephen and Alexis" - it was made after the reconstruction of the church, again at the expense of Satri Stefano and his wife, the fresco was probably made by Pietro Turini as evidenced by the expertise of March 24, 1510 - the depiction of the Madonna and Child is linked to the ancient union of the Church with the Hospice of Santa Maria in Portico to which we can bring back the presence of St. Alexis - Christ enthroned within the almond might celebrate the dedication of the primitive church (San Salvatore in Portico) while in Santo Stefano we can read a tribute to the benefactor. 

Between 1610 and 1630 Giovanni Antonio Galli known as "the Spadarino" painted an altarpiece representing "Sant'Omobono's charity", it is located on the altar dedicated to the homonymous Saint, on the left, next to the tomb of the Satri family. Several documents prove that since 1686 Sant'Omobono underwent a phase of decorative interventions. The first phase involved the grandstand of altar, which was equipped in 1686 with "stucco and paintings" by the painter Domenico Paradisi - these were paid 50 shields at the expense of some benefactors belonging to the brotherhood. As in the notary's act the painter had to highlight the dome with golden decorations and faux marble in accordance with the order of Carlo Maratti - some traces from this phase still remain. Between October 1695 and December 1698 other documents recorded several payments to Francesco Corallo for works of "gilding and painting" for a sum of three hundred and eighty shields. Francesco Corallo decorated the coffered ceiling with golden foliage and putti, then three pictures - a big one in the middle and two round one with Baroque frames - they represented the life and miracles of St. Anthony and St. Omobono. This decoration was lost during the XIX century restoration. The two frescoes in the lunettes are probably from the late XVII century - they are attributed to Michelangelo Ricciolini or Andrea Locatelli - they represent "the Temptation of Adam and Eve" and "God the Father dressing Adam and Eve". The themes are well linked with the context - the church belonging to the Brotherhood of Tailors. 

In the mid nineteenth century Gaetano Moroni remembered five altars in the church, that is, two on each side along the aisle and the high altar. The fourth arch at right and the third on the left have no altars - because they house the Satri tomb and the frescoed lunettes. In 1872 the ceiling was coffered and many seventeenth-century Baroque decorations were lost, the pilasters and wall decorations and faux marble still survive however. This is what the church still looks like today. 

The Church is now located in an elevated position - above the street surface and to the archaeological area of ​​more than two meters, this is an interesting example of the stratification of Rome. Around 1920 began the demolition of the surrounding area, the construction of the embankments of the Tiber ended and the lovely neighbrohood around the church was demolished for the opening of the Via del Mare (the current Via del Teatro Marcello and Via Petroselli). Until the beginning of the XX century the area was modestly populated - it was one of the access points to the Roman market of Piazza Montara and its sorroundings and from the Via Appia and the Via Ostiense that converged in the piazza Montanamara and the Teatro Marcello. Its commercial importance was demonstrated by the fact that the area had 6 taverns, an inn and a cafe. As in other parts of Rome (including the area in front of St. Peter's) historical houses and Medieval and Renaissance churches, including the Church of Santa Galla (demolished in 1935) were torn down. The buildings around the Church were demolished between the 20s and 30s - their disappearance isolated the Church, which was equipped with an ugly porch and lost a pretty Romanesque bell tower on the same side (similar to that of Santa Maria in Campitelli albeit smaller). Until then, the church was located in Via Sant'Omobono precisely, renamed "Vico Jugario". The church was restored twice in the XX century - in the 40s when the floor was fixed and during the 60s/70s. In 1984 there were sages for a possible restoration of the Renaissance fresco. Until 1997 the church had a "primicerius" but now the Confraternity is headquartered in the Lateran. The church is currently closed and waiting for restoration, it has a rector official but it is owned by the Sovrintendenza Capitolina (at least in theory), but a sign indicating the 11 o'clock Mass oon the first Sunday of the month and a keyhole that reveals the beautiful fresco continues to give us hope...

 Edoardo Fanfani - 2015 ©

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