The Santa Chiara Church in Rome is part of the French Seminary and is only rarely accessible to tourists. This is not a problem as the façade is the artistic highlight of the church.
Santa Chiara Church Rome (and French Seminary)
Address: Via di Santa Chiara, 42 – Rome. Phone: +39 06 680211. Opening hours: First Thursday of the month from 4pm to 6pm . Entrance fee: Free of charge. (NB: Hours may be subject to change.)
History and description
In 1592, San Carlo Borromeo commissioned the construction of a monastery with its adjacent Santa Chiara Church. The original design was by Francesco Capriani da Volterra.
The first restoration took place in 1627.
In 1855, the church was left to its fate to be bought by the Brotherhood of the Holy Spirit. A complete renovation followed between 1883 and 1890.
The façade dates from 1888 and was designed by Luca Carimini. The main decorations are the one above the portal and the marble busts between the seven semicircular windows and the eaves. The busts represent various saints. Some sculptures can also be seen inside the tympanum.
The church consists of a single nave. The altarpiece is by Virginio Monti and depicts the “Holy Family”.
The former convent is still used for training future French priests.
Francesco Capriani (1535-1594) was born in Volterra. He was responsible for the design of several churches in Rome. The most important ones were the Santa Susanna Church and the Santa Pudenziana Church.
Luca Carimini (1830-1890) was a Roman architect with a humble background. When he was only 14, his father died. He became an apprentice of a marble worker. After that he studied at the famous Accademia di San Luca (now a museum). He did most of his work in Rome itself, with the Sant’Antonio da Padova Church in the Via Merulana as his masterpiece. He also did a lot of restoration work on already existing churches.
Virginio Monti (1852-1942) was also born near Rome. Pope Leo XIII proclaimed him to be the official painter of the Roman church. He painted frescoes in several local churches and in Carpineto Romano, the Pope’s birth place.