The Santa Maria del Buon Aiuto Church is located just off the Piazza Santa Croce in Gerusalemme in Rome. It is an oratory belonging to the Santa Croce in Gerusalemme Basilica itself. Unfortunately, the little church is almost always closed.
Santa Maria di Buon Aiuto Church Rome
Address: Via Nola, 10 – Rome. Telephone: +39 06 7014769. Opening Hours: The church is never open and can only be seen from outside.
History and description
The Oratory di Santa Maria del Buon Aiuto was built in 1476, commissioned by Pope Sixtus IV. With characteristic modesty, Sixtus had this inscribed on the architrave: “Sixtus IV fundavit MCCCCLXXVI”. To ensure that everyone knew that he was the one responsible for the construction, a similar inscription is visible above the entrance. In addition, the coat of arms of his family (the Della Rovere) can be seen on the upper part of the façade.
Other names for this church are Santa Maria del Soccorso and Santa Maria de Spazzolari. The latter name is said to refer to the sexton who collected the coins (a spazzolo is a broom) left behind inside the church.
The diminutive church has an unadorned facade with an entrance gate with an architrave and a window above it. The sloping roof has a small bell tower. The back is built against the Aurelian Wall.
The official name of the church is Santa Maria del Buon Aiuto in Anfiteatro Castrense.
What to see
The interior of the church is graced by an ancient fresco depicting Mary, which was originally found in an aedicule near the basilica itself. According to legend, Sixtus himself had to take shelter in this niche one day when it was raining rather hard. He called upon the Madonna, who of immediately came to his aid and stopped the rain. The pope, of course, could not stay behind and had the Buon Aiuto (“Good Help”) Church built to accommodate the image of Mary. The “Madonna and Child” was, by the way, by the hand of Antoniazzo Romano.