Sunday, April 6, 2014

Santa Maria sopra Minerva, Rome

Santa Maria sopra Minerva was built in the 13th century on the ruins of the Temple of Minerva, goddess of wisdom. At least, that's what they thought; more recent archeology points to the Egyptian goddess Isis. The Dominicans (a mendicant order of teachers) built the church as part of a convent. 

Santa Maria sopra Minerva

The obelisk outside is an ancient one. When discovered in the monastery of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, the monks wanted it placed in the piazza. Bernini was called in to set it up. He added the elephant at the bottom. The friars thought a gap under the elephant would compromise the stability, so Bernini added the saddle cloth to hide the support. An elephant is an ancient symbol of intelligence and piety and so fits well a church with a wisdom theme.

J and the obelisk and the elephant

Inside, the Gothic structure still exists, along with a great variety of artistic works, including a statue of the Risen Christ begun by Michelangelo but completed by Raffaele da Montelupo in 1521.


Amazing fresco

John the Baptist

Risen Christ

The church also has the tombs of many Italian Dominicans, including Catherine of Siena (who died in Rome in 1380) and Fra Angelico (friar and painter who died in 1455).

Catherine of Siena's tomb

Fra Angelico's tomb

Other tombs and memorials are scattered throughout the church.

Tomb of Giovanni Vigevano

Francis Bertazzoli Memorial

Poloni memorial

Another tomb

The Dominicans were nicknamed Domini Canes, the hounds of the Lord, because they taught against heretics with a lot of enthusiasm.  This nickname is captured in one of the church's decorations.

Does he want to play fetch?

L was fascinated by the confessionals and wanted a picture of her first confession.

L at the confessional

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