Monday, February 29, 2016

Baroque Wonder: San Girolamo alla Carità and the beautiful Spada Chapel.

Not too far from the beautiful Palazzo Farnese, on the Via di Monserrato, is located the church of San Girolamo alla Carità.
According to an old Roman tradition this was the location of the house of Paola, a matron who hosted St. Jerome from whom the church takes its name. During the Middle Ages it was briefly used by the Franciscans who were then relocated to San Bartolomeo all'isola in 1536.
Pope Clemens VII granted the church to a company that he instituted for charitable purposes. 
St. Philip Neri lived here for thirty-three years, between 1551 and 1583, before he started his oratory where the saint entertained other great minds of his time such as St. Charles Borromeo and St. Ignatius of Loyola.

The façade

The church was rebuilt in 1654 and rededicated to St. Jerome: S. Hieronimo nel Rione Regola. 
The lovely façade was designed by Carlo Reinaldi in 1660 and donated by Fantino Renzi, it surely is a charming one. The church has a single nave, the ceiling has refined wooden carvings. 
One of the most amazing features of this church is the beautiful Spada Chapel, by Francesco Borromini, it is the first one on the left. 

The interior

The Cappella Spada is decorated with several types of marble, carved in numerous and sophisticated ways, in the centre there is a precious 15th century painting of a Madonna with Child. 

The Cappella Spada

The altar rail is made of a marble drapery held by two angels whose wings act as gates to the chapel. 

Detail of the elaborate altar rail of the Spada Chapel

The decorative medallions resemble the motifs on the façade of the nearby family's Palazzo, the tombs of the family are on the two sides of the altar and there are also two small decorative urns which are incredibly elegant. In this marvellous space, opulence and yet harmony, create a wonderful combination - it is one of the great masterpieces of the Roman Baroque.

Detail of the elaborate marble decorations of the Spada Chapel

Elaborate marble decorations of the altar frontal in the Spada Chapel

Elaborate marble decorations and urn in the Spada Chapel

The motif of the decoration of the chapel is inspired by the façade of the Palazzo Spada, there are little swords in the details, that is because "Spada" means sword

The late Renaissance façade of the Palazzo Spada

The high altar, designed by Carlo Rainaldi, used to host the Last Supper by Domenichino, now in the Vatican Museums, the wonderful altarpiece is substituted by a copy.

The high altar

The original altarpiece in the Vatican Museums

Another interesting characteristic of this church is the Antamori chapel, designed by Filippo Juvarra, on the left to the high altar, its Roman Rococo style, called "Barocchetto Romano" plays in a magical way with the light, it hosts a statue of St. Philip Neri by Pierre Legros.

The Antamori Chapel

Unfortunately this beautiful church is only open on Sundays from 10 to 12, if you really want to visit it you can call the nuns in advance.

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