The Chiesa dei Santi Martiri (“Church of the Holy Martyrs”) is located at the corner of the Via Garibaldi and the Via Botero in Turin. It was constructed for the Jesuit order, in the second half of the 17th century. Unfortunately, for lack of worshipers, the church was closed in 2013.
Santi Martiri Church Turin
Address: Via Giuseppe Garibaldi, 25 – 10122 Torino. Phone: +39 327 598339. Opening times: From 06:30 till 12:00 and from 15:30 till 19:30. Ticket price: Free.
History and description
The Church of the Holy Martyrs is located along Via Garibaldi, at the corner with Via Botero. The Holy Martyrs are the three oldest patron saints of the city, Avventore, Ottavio and Solutore.
The church was constructed on top of an earlier church, dedicated to Santo Stefano. The foundation stone was laid in the presence of Duke Emanuele Filiberto i of Savoy, who had invited the Jesuits to Turin in order to run a college there.
The design was the work of Pellegrino Tibaldi, who died in 1596, long before the church was finished. The official year of completion (except for the dome) was 1612.
The interior consists of a single nave, with four side chapels. Two of these are dedicated to the most important Jesuit saints, Ignatius and Francis Xavier. The remaining two are dedicated to the Immaculate Conception and to Saint Paul.
The early 18th century saw a renovation of the sacristy. The choir, the dome and the bell tower were reconstructed after a project by Carlo Giulia Quadro.
In 1733, Filippo Juvarra designed the high altar and the altar of Sant’Ignazion.
Bernardo Antonio Vittone restored the facade between 1768 and 1770. In the same period he also placed a new marble floor in the presbytery.
A major restoration was completed in 2000.
What to see
Around 1680, Andrea Pozzo, who is famous for his trompe l’oeil frescoes in Jesuit churches, frescoed the vault. However, little more remains of his work than the angels beside the organ. The rest was replaced by the work of Luigi Vacca in the 19th century.
The choir was decorated around 1630 with frescoes by Isidoro Bianchi.
The relics of the saints for whom the church is named have been preserved here since 1584. One of these relics is the slab of stone on which San Salutore was beheaded.
The Santi Martiri Church contains the tombs of Giovanni Botero, Joseph de Maistre and Giovanni Francesco Bellezia.
Botero was a priest, who wrote the treatise Della ragion di Stato (“The Reason of State”), where he claims that the values of Roman Catholicism ought to be an indispensable part of any manner of governing.
Joseph de Maistre was a philospher who said that monarchy was the only stable form of government.
Giovanni Francesco Bellezia was mayor of Turin during the Plague epidemic of 1630. He remained with his citizens, even after all other notables, including the Savoy rulers had abandoned the city.