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Santa Maria in Ara Coeli - Roma, Italy
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member denben
N 41° 53.637 E 012° 28.961
33T E 291168 N 4641066
Quick Description: Santa Maria in Ara Coeli is a 13th century minor basilica and former convent church located on the highest summit of the Campidoglio. It is still the designated Church of the city council of Rome, which uses the ancient title of Senatus Populusque Romanus.
Location: Lazio, Italy
Date Posted: 7/17/2019 7:25:17 PM
Waymark Code: WM10ZK4
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member fi67
Views: 1

Long Description:
Originally the church was named Sancta Maria in Capitolio, since it was sited on the Capitoline Hill (Campidoglio, in Italian) of Ancient Rome; by the 14th century it had been renamed.

At first the church followed the Greek rite, a sign of the power of the Byzantine exarch. Taken over by the papacy by the 9th century, the church was given first to the Benedictines, then, by papal bull to the Franciscans in 1249–1250; under the Franciscans it received its Romanesque-Gothic aspect. The arches that divide the nave from the aisles are supported on columns, no two precisely alike, scavenged from Roman ruins.

During the Middle Ages, this church became the centre of the religious and civil life of the city. in particular during the republican experience of the 14th century, when Cola di Rienzo inaugurated the monumental stairway of 124 steps in front of the church, designed in 1348 by Simone Andreozzi, on the occasion of the Black Death.

In 1571, Santa Maria in Aracoeli hosted the celebrations honoring Marcantonio Colonna after the victorious Battle of Lepanto over the Turkish fleet. Marking this occasion, the compartmented ceiling was gilded and painted (finished 1575), to thank the Blessed Virgin for the victory. In 1797, with the Roman Republic, the basilica was deconsecrated and turned into a stable. The friary was shut down for the duration, but was re-opened in 1815 only to be confiscated by the Italian government in 1873. It was then used as a barracks and headquarters for the Vigili Urbani, an early city police force.

Despite now being dependent on the parish church of San Marco, the church is still that of the Senate and People of Rome (SPQR).

The church is built as a nave and two aisles that are divided by Roman columns, all different, taken from diverse antique monuments.

Among its numerous treasures are Pinturicchio's 15th-century frescoes depicting the life of Saint Bernardino of Siena in the Bufalini Chapel. Other features are the coffered and gilded wooden ceiling that commemorates the Battle of Lepanto (1571), the inlaid cosmatesque floor with a large number of tomb slabs, a Transfiguration painted on wood by Girolamo Siciolante da Sermoneta, the tombstone of Giovanni Crivelli by Donatello, the tomb of Cecchino dei Bracci, designed by his friend Michelangelo (who also wrote love sonnets in his dedication), and works by other artists like Pietro Cavallini (of his frescoes only one survives), Benozzo Gozzoli and Giulio Romano. It houses also Madonna Aracoeli (Our Lady of the Golden Hands), (Byzantian icon, 10-11th-century) in the Altar. This Marian image was Pontifically crowned on 29 March 1636 by Pope Urban VIII. Pope Pius XII consecrated the people of Rome to the Most Blessed Virgin Mary and her Immaculate Heart in front of this image in 1948, May 30. In the transept there is a sepulchral monument by Arnolfo di Cambio.

The church was also famous in Rome for the wooden statue of the Santo Bambino of Aracoeli, carved in the 15th century of olive wood coming from the Gethsemane garden and covered with valuable ex-votos. Many people of Rome believed in the power of this statue. It had been taken by the French in 1797, was later recovered, yet stolen again in February 1994. A copy was made from Gethsemane wood, which is now displayed in its own chapel by the sacristy.

The relics of Saint Helena, mother of Constantine the Great are housed at Santa Maria in Aracoeli, as are the remains of Saint Juniper, one of the original followers of Saint Francis of Assisi. Pope Honorius IV and Queen Catherine of Bosnia are also buried in the church. The tablet with the monogram of Jesus that Saint Bernardino of Siena used to promote devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus is kept in Aracoeli.

Opening hours: 7:00 to 19:00.
The church can not be visited during Mass.

Sources: Wikipedia (visit link) and (visit link)
Type of Church: Basilica

Status of Building: Actively in use for worship

Date of building construction: 1/1/1249

Dominant Architectural Style: Renaissance

Archdiocese: Rome

Diocese: Rome

Scala dell'Arce Capitolina, 12,
Roma, Italy

Relvant Web Site: [Web Link]

Date of organization: Not listed

Associated Shrines, Art, etc.: Not listed

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