The Santa Maria della Vittoria Church in Rome was originally dedicated to San Paolo. It is a baroque church and its most important attraction is Bernini’s Ecstasy of Saint Teresa. The official name in English is Our Lady of Victory. Since it was featured in Dan Brown‘s “Angels and Demons”, the church has seen a big increase in the number of visiting tourists.
Santa Maria della Vittoria Church Rome
Opening hours and admission
Opening hours: From 08.30 till 12.00 and from 15.30 till 18.00. Tourists are not supposed to enter the church while mass is being celebrated. Admission: Free.
History and description
The original name of the church was Saint Paul‘s. Ferdinand of Habsburg changed the name to della Vittoria in 1620, after his troops had beaten the protestant Prague army. After they had found a small image of the Madonna among the rubble Ferdinand attributed the victory to Maria instead of to his troops.
De Chiesa di Santa Maria della Vittoria was designed and built by Carlo Maderno and commissioned by Cardinal Scipione Borghese. Construction lasted from 1608 until 1620.
The facade, albeit resembling that of the nearby Chiesa di Santa Susana (which was also done by Maderno), was designed by Gian Battista Soria. It is characterized by two rows of pillars and a low set of stairs leading up to the entrance. The portal is flanked by two niches.
Angels and Demons
Santa Maria della Vittoria is one of the churches playing a role in Dan Brown‘s “Angels and Demons”. He places it on the Piazza Barberini, however, according to the Wikipedia article for purposes of his novel. Having read the thing, it is probably a fairly safe bet that ignorance is at the root of the mistake.
In 1644 Cardinal Federico Cornaro commissioned the Cornaro Chapel to be built. Construction lasted from 1647 till 1651. The chapel contains the most famous attraction of the church, Gian Lorenzo Bernini‘s “Ecstacy of Saint Teresa”. There is no visible source of light in the chapel and the statue is placed in such a position that the overall effect is rather alienating. Teresa of Avila was a 16th century Carmelite nun.
The Chapel of the Holy Trinity is decorated with Guercino‘s “The Holy Trinity”.
“The Virgin Showing the Child to Saint Franciscus” by Domenichino is the altarpiece of the Chapel of Saint Franciscus. There are two more frescoes by the same artist in this chapel.
Saint Joseph’s Chapel is the one directly across from the Cornaro Chapel. It contains a statue that appears to have taken its inspiration from the Ecstacy of Saint Teresa. It depicts the “Dream of Saint Joseph” and was sculpted by Domenico Guidi.
Address and public transport
Address: Via XX Settembre, 17 – Rome (tel. +39 06 42740571). Metro: Repubblica, Barberini (line A). Nearest bus stops: Bissolati (lijn 61, 62, 85, 492, N1, N5, N12), XX Settembre/Min. Finanze (60, 61, 62, 66, 82, 492, 910) and Vittorio Emanuele Orlando, 95 (66, 82, 85, 590, 910, N1, N5, N12).