The San Marcello al Corso Church is located along Rome‘s main shopping street, Via del Corso. Its main attractions are frescoes and paintings by important artists such as Jacopo Sansovino, Francesco Salviati, the Zuccari brothers and Antonio Algardi.
San Marcello al Corso Church Rome
Address and opening Hours
Address: The official address of the church is not on the Via del Corso itself, but on Piazza di San Marcello, 5 – Rome (District: Trevi). Telephone: +39 06 699301. Public transportation: Bus: H, 53, 60X, 80X, 81, 83, 85, 117, 160, 170, 175, 628, 916, N3, N4, N6, N8, N9, N12, N18, N19, N25. Opening hours: During the week: 7.30 to 12.00 and 16.00 to 19.00; Sundays and public holidays: 9.30 to 12.00 and 16.00 to 19.00; Saturdays: 10.00 to 12.00. Closed: During Mass (on weekdays at 11.00 and at 18.00 and on Sundays and public holidays at 7.45 and at 18.00) it is not possible to visit San Marcello al Corso. Entrance fee: Free of charge. (NB: Due to the Covid crisis, opening hours may differ from those indicated here).
History and description
The San Marcello al Corso church is dedicated to Pope Marcellus I and is said to have been built on the site where he was imprisoned. Beneath the present church are the remains of an earlier version, which was built in the 8th century by order of Pope Adrian I.
There are even references to a church dedicated to Marcellus I that would have existed as early as the beginning of the 5th century.
In 1354, the corpse of Cola di Rienzo, the leader of a successful coup d’état who had had many nobles killed during his reign, and had fled the city and later returned as an envoy of the Pope, was kept in the church for several days.
Since 1369, the church has been run by the Order of the Servites of Mary.
In 1418, Boniface was elected as the new Pope in this church.
After a fire in 1519, the church needed to be rebuilt, which happened under the architect Antonio Sangallo the Younger. The originally appointed architect Jacopo Sansovino had fled the city during the sacking of Rome on 6 May 1527.
During the fire, a large wooden crucifix was spared. Naturally, this was considered a miracle and the statue became an object of veneration. Three years later, for 16 days, a large crowd carried the statue through all the districts of the city during an epidemic of the plague. Shortly after the statue was brought to St Peter’s Basilica, the plague stopped.
In 1530, the Tiber flooded, which caused further damage.
Work on the church was only completed in 1592.
Carlo Fontana would only complete the façade much later, between 1692 and 1697.
What to see
The chapel of Saint Filippo Benizi, one of the most important figures in the Order of the Servites of Mary, is graced with sculptures by Francesco Cavallini and reliefs by Ercole Ferrata and Antonio Raggi.
The first chapel on the right contains two tombs sculpted by Jacopo Sansovino.
In the second chapel on the right, Pietro Barbieri‘s “Martyrdom of the Saints Digna and Emerita” can be admired. Relics of these saints are also under the main altar.
The famous wooden crucifix is in the 4th chapel on the right.
Alessandro Algardi was responsible for the busts that are in the 4th chapel on the left.
Beneath the high altar are relics of a number of saints, including Pope Marcellus himself.
Several paintings by the brothers Taddeo and Federico Zuccari can be seen in the church.
In Catholic circles, belief in the aforementioned crucifix is still alive and kicking. In March 2020, the Pope had the statue taken to St Peter’s again, where he then prayed for the end of the Corona Crisis. Unfortunately, the statue seems have lost its effectiveness. Moreover, while it was in St. Peter’s Square the statue got damaged by the rain.