Santa Maria in Trastevere
is the oldest church in Rome dedicated to the Virgin. On this spot in
38 b.C. a fountain of oil flowed for a whole day. Christians later interpreted
this miracle as a sign of the birth of the Saviour.
One of the first places where the Christians could freely celebrate their religious services. Pope Calixtus built the first sanctuary between 221 and 227 it was later completed by Julius I. Under the trasteverine Pope Innocent II it was completely restored and finally embellished in the Baroque Time. Nowadays it is one of the most beautiful churches of Rome. The fašade is decorated with a splendid medieval mosaic which shows the Virgin and Child and a procession of 10 Vergins approaching from both sides. The belfry dating back to the XIIcent., is among the highest and characteristic of Rome. The interior dates back to the XII cent.. The columns were taken from ancient monuments, all are crowned with their Classical capitals , the figures of some Egyptian divinities were removed. The floor is partly in Cosmatesque style. The ceiling was decorated by Domenichino. The true treasure of the church are the mosaics decorating the apse which date back to the XII cent. showing the Glory of the Virgin.The mosaics and frescoes between the apse and the windows are a masterpiece by Pietro Cavallini (late XIII cent.) representing episodes from the life of the Virgin. Worth seeing are the small chapel of the Tabernacle, Rococo creation by Raguzzini, and the Avila Chapel considered the best Baroque creation after the times of Bernini and Borromini. The Sacristy contains two fine old mosaics (I cent A.D.)
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