Santa Maria Odigitria Church Rome
Address and hours
The address of the church is Via del Tritone, 82 – Rome (district: Trevi). Phone: +39 064885872. Metro: Barberini (line A). Opening hours: 07:30 to 10:30 and 16:30 to 19:00. Closed: Sunday. Mass: 5:30 p.m. on holidays.
History and description
The Chiesa di Santa Maria Odigitria was built in 1594, when Pope Clement VIII wanted to give a church to the Sicilian community in Rome. Later, a kind of hostel for young Sicilians and Maltese who came to study in Rome was added.
The church owes its name to an image of the “Virgin Odigitria” (nicknamed the “Madonna of Constantinople”) that can be seen in the church. Odigitria means “she who shows the way.”
At the end of the 18th century, almost the entire complex was demolished by the French troops, to be reconstructed in 1817 to a design by Francesco Manno.
The austere façade is by Giuseppe Palazzi and consists of two levels, the lower one of which being characterized by a gate with an inscription in honor of Saint Maria Odigitria. The upper part has a large, arched window.
The interior was restored in 1970 and consists of a single nave with an apse. There are four chapels, all decorated with works by Sicilian painters: “Santa Lucia di Siracusa” is by Salvatore Fiume, “Santa Rosalia di Palermo” was painted by Mario Bardi and “Santa Agata di Catania” was the work of Sebastiano Miluzzo. The last altar piece depicts Roman “Popes Agathon and Leo II together with Metodio Siculo, the patriarch of Constantinople”, to symbolize Sicily’s connection to the Byzantine world.
More about the name Odigitria
The term “odigitria” goes back to the 5th century, when Teodosio II had three basilicas dedicated to Mary built in Costantinople. In one of the three hung the holy image of the “Virgin with the Child in Her Arms” which was called “degli odeghi,” or “of the guides,” because the army leaders used to go there to ask for spiritual protection during their crusades against the Turks. It was considered a kind of guardian angel of the city and of the Eastern Empire. Emperors then carried the image at the head of their victory processions and thus it was given the name Odigitria.