Although much older, the Sant’Anna dei Palafrenieri Church has been enclosed insider the walls of the Vatican since 1929. The entrance is at the Porta Sant’Anna, along the Via di Porta Angelica. An procession of pregnant women used to take place there every year on July 26.
Sant’Anna dei Palafrenieri Church Rome
Address, Admission and Opening Hours
The address of the Chiesa di Sant’Anna dei Palafrenieri is Via di Porta Angelica, angolo Borgo Pio – Città del Vaticano (tel. +39 0669883265). Opening hours: From 06.00 to 12.00 and from 16.00 to 19.00. Entrance: Free.
The Sant’Anna dei Palafrenieri Church is located right by the Porta Sant’Anna, which is also named after it. It came to be enclosed within the Vatican City walls in 1929, when Musssolini and the Pope signed the Lateran Pact.
The church was built between 1565 and 1583, with a hiatus between 1577 and 1581 when the fraternity briefly ran out of money. The architect was Giacomo Barozzi, nicknamed Vignola. Its constructiononstruction was commissioned by the Brotherhood of the Palafrenieri. The Palafrenieri were a kind of squires, all related to members of the papal court.
In the early 18th century, Alessandro Specchi added both the balustrade on the facade and the two bell towers.
The two angels were created by sculptors Michael Maille and Francesco Moderati.
The window and the ovals “Sant’Anna and the Madonna” on the facade also date back to the early 18th century.
The interior is elliptical in shape.
Works of art Sant’Anna dei Palafrenieri Church
The four frescoes depicting the “Life of Sant’Anna” were done by the German painter Ignazio Stern. The shells that seem to hold up the paintings and the angels of plaster were the work of by Giovan Battista de Rossi.
The altar piece “Sant’Anna and the Madonna” was painted by Arturo Vigliardi in 1926. Previously, a “Sant’Anna and the Madonna with Child”, painted in 1583 by Giovanni Marcho, hung here. This painting was replaced in 1775 by a processional chariot with the sculpture group “The Virgin and Sant’Anna”. In 1870 the chariot was replaced by another one, which can still be seen today in the Santa Caterina della Rota Church together with the wooden angels.
Macchina di Sant’Anna
The Macchina di Sant’Anna was traditionally carried through the city on July 26 from the Santa Maria in Campitelli Church in a parade called the “procession of the fat bellies”. In front walked the grenadiers, followed by the flag bearers of the Palafrenieri sitting on mules. Next came the lantern bearers and the military chapel. The procession was concluded by pregnant women who carried burning candles and prayed that childbirth would not take longer than the candle would burn. The Macchina di Sant’Anna and its sculpture group was so heavy that 24 men were needed to carry them. The procession ended at the Castel Sant’Angelo, where the cannons were fired.