The Church of San Vincenzo Martire is located on a hill outside the city center of Bassano Romano. The main attraction in this church, officially called the Volto Santo di Gesù Church, is a statue known as “Christ the Redeemer”. The sculptor was Michelangelo.
Church of San Vincenzo Martire Bassano Romano
Address: Via San Vincenzo, 88 – Bassano Romano. Phone: +39 0761 0761 634007.
History and description
Construction of the San Vincenzo Martire Church was commissioned by Marquis Vincenzo Giustiniani. The Marquis intended to use the church as a mausoleum for his family. The tombs are in front of the San Vincenzo Altar in the left transept.
The facade, sometimes attributed to Carlo Maderno, is characterized by pillars, niches and ledges and has a dome with a bell tower on both sides. The balustrade crowning the construction holds a large bust depicting the Saviour.
The austere interior has a floor plan in the shape of a Latin cross.
Although the façade bears the date 1630, construction was not yet finished when Vincenzo Giustiniani died in 1637. In his will, he therefore left instructions that the church should be finished according to the designs of the architect Giacomo Pacifici.
Inscriptions inside the church refer to restoration work under Prince Vincenzo III Giustiniani (early 19th century) and a visit by Pope Pius VII (1805).
In 1940, Prince Innocenzo Odescalchi donated the church to the Monastic Order of the Sylvestrines, who refurbished the dilapidated church and built a monastery next to it, with an orphanage for children of people killed in the war.From 1979, the church is officially called the Volto Santo di Gesù (“Church of the Holy Face of Jesus”).
What to see
Near the altar in the right nave hangs a painting by an anonymous artist, depicting the “Birth of the Redeemer”. The left nave is graced by a “Coronation of San Vincenzo the Martyr”.
The 17th-century pillars on either side of the entrance to the presbytery have commemorative plaques indicating the exact days when, following a decree by Pope Innocenzo X, one could earn an indulgence by visiting the church.
In the chapel to the right of the choir is a statue known as “Christ the Bearer of the Cross” or “Christ the Redeemer”. It was commissioned by Metello Vari and created by Michelangelo in 1514 for the Santa Maria Sopra Minerva Church in Rome. When Michelangelo noticed a black vein running through the marble, he decided to start all over. Vari placed the original for decoration in the garden at this church. It was later bought by Marquis Vincenzo Giustiniani, who had it completed by other artists. In 1644 it was placed at the main altar of San Vincenzo Church by Prince Andrea Giustiniani, where it remained until 1979, when it was replaced by the marble sculpture group Santo Volto. Christ the Cross-bearer moved to a small rectory and it was only in 1998, when the history behind the statue was discovered, that it was given its current location.