Santa Maria della Concezione is dedicated to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception and it is located on the swanky Via Venato. It is commonly referred to as I Cappuccini, the church of the Capuchin Friars; which is a branch of the Franciscan Order.
The church was built in 1626 by Cardinal Antonio Barberini. He was Pope Urban VIII‘s younger brother. Cardinal Barberini was a Capuchin friar. He is buried is a simple grave under the altar where there is a tombstone with the inscription in Latin, “Here lies dust, ashes, nothing.”
The architects were Antonio Casoni and Michele da Bergamo, a Capuchin Friar. The church has a double set of stairs leading up to the church and a very simple facade.
When the Capuchins moved from their convent near the Quirinal to this location, they brought the bones of about 4000 of their friars. The bones were placed in a cemetery under the chapels on the right side of the church. They arranged the bones in a variety of patterns on the walls and ceilings. Some of the skeletons are intact and draped with Capuchin robes. Two of the chapels have soil from the Holy Land. A plaque in one of the chapels reads, in three languages, “You are what we once were; you will be what we now are.”
The vault has Liborio Coccetti’s fresco of the “Assumption.” The first chapel on the right has a gorgeous altarpiece of St. Michael the Archangel (1635) by Guido Reni and Gerrit van Honthorst‘s “Mocking of Christ.” The second chapel has a Transfiguration by Mario Balassi, and a Nativity (c. 1632) by Lanfranco.
The third chapel has a Saint Francis in Ecstasy by Domenichino. The fourth chapel houses a Prayer in the Gesthemane (c. 1632) by Baccio Ciarpi. In the fifth chapel is a Saint Anthony Raises a Dead Man to Life by Sacchi.
In the pavement, in front of the presbytery, is the tombstone of the churches founder, Cardinal Barberini. The Latin inscriptions says: “Here lie dust, ashes and nothing.”
Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides @ www.vino-con-vista.com
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