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All images © by Roberto Piperno, owner of the domain. Write to romapip@quipo.it. Text edited by Rosamie Moore.
Page revised in August 2010.

Collegio Romano e S. Ignazio (Book 9) (Map B2) (Day 1) (View C7) (Rione Pigna) and (Rione Colonna)

In this page:
The plate by Giuseppe Vasi
Today's view
S. Ignazio
The Missing Dome
Oratorio del Caravita
Piazza S. Ignazio

The Plate (No. 163)

Collegio Romano e S. Ignazio

The views of ancient and modern Rome by Giuseppe Vasi usually focused on the monuments of the Eternal City and they rarely sketched aspects of daily life; this etching is an exception to the previous statement because it gives relevance to a luxury coach with a collapsed axle; maybe Vasi had in mind an actual event which involved someone he knew, but in the text accompanying the plate he did not provide any clue to explain his choice. Traffic in XVIIIth century Rome is a page with a small selection of traffic scenes taken from Vasi's etchings.
The view is taken from the green dot in the 1748 map below. In the description below the plate Vasi made reference to: 1) Part of Collegio Romano; 2) Oratorio del Caravita; 3) Buildings forming a theatre opposite the church. 1) is shown in another page. The map shows also 4) S. Ignazio. The dotted line in the small map delineates the borders among Rione Pigna (lower section), Rione Colonna (upper section) and Rione Trevi (right side).

Small ViewSmall Map

Today

The Square today
The view in July 2010

The original project for the fašade of S. Ignazio was modified during its construction; the height was raised by some 15 feet thus making the fašade even more out of proportion in relationship to the small square which lay in front of it.
The buildings surrounding the square were regarded as examples of bad taste by Francesco Milizia, a neoclassic art historian, but they still retain their elaborate decoration and their original size.

The church
(left) Fašade; (right) Collegio Romano and Oratorio del Caravita

From the point of view chosen by Vasi it is not possible to see Oratorio del Caravita in the small street leading to Piazza di Sciarra and the entire fašade of S. Ignazio at the same time.

S. Ignazio

The church
Detail of the fašade; the inscription celebrates the role of Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi

In 1562-66 a church was built on the site of today's S. Ignazio; it was dedicated to S. Maria Annunziata and its fašade can be seen in a 1588 Guide to Rome. The church however did not meet the requirements of Collegio Romano which was attended by some 2,000 students and in 1626 it was pulled down to make room for a larger church. The construction was financed by Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi, nephew of Pope Gregory XV ; the new church was dedicated to St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order, who was canonized in 1622.
Orazio Grassi, who taught mathematics at Collegio Romano, designed the new building and his project was endorsed by a commission which included Carlo Maderno. The church was completed in 1685 except for the dome.

ceiling
Details of the nave ceiling by Andrea Pozzo

The interior of the church was mainly decorated by Andrea Pozzo, another teacher of Collegio Romano, who in 1693 summarized his studies on perspective in Perspectiva pictorum and architectorum, a text which had a great influence on the decoration of XVIIIth century palaces and churches throughout Europe.

Altare di S. Luigi
Altare di S. Luigi Gonzaga - ceiling by Andrea Pozzo

Because a lavishly decorated altar to St. Ignatius already existed at il Ges¨, a similarly impressive altar was dedicated to St. Aloysius Gonzaga, a Jesuit who died in 1591 at the age of 23 while caring for the sick during a pestilence; he was canonized in 1605, before the founder of his order. Pozzo painted the illusory ceiling above this altar and also that for Chiesa del Ges¨ at Frascati; in 1703 he went to Vienna where he decorated Jesuitenkirche and the interior of Liechtenstein Palace.

Altare di S. Luigi
(left) Altare di S. Luigi Gonzaga; (right) Annunciazione, relief by Filippo Della Valle on the opposite altar

Pope Gregory XV and his nephew Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi were buried in the church; the image shown in the background of this page shows a detail of their monument.

The Missing Dome

The missing dome
(left) Model of the dome; (right) painted dome by Andrea Pozzo seen from the nave

The initial design of the church included a dome, but when in 1685 the rest of of the building was completed, the Jesuits had no money left for the construction of the dome. At this point Andrea Pozzo suggested to temporarily complete the interior of the church by painting an illusory view of the dome on canvas. His knowledge of perspective led to a very successful result and the matter was settled for good. In the nave a circular slab of yellow marble indicates the point selected by Pozzo to develop his calculations; moving away from there, one gradually notices that the church has a rather unusual dome.

Oratorio del Caravita

Oratorio del Caravita
(left) Oratorio del Caravita; (right) detail of the fašade with dedicatory inscription to St. Francis Xavier

The oratory was built in 1630-33 at the initiative of Father Pietro Gravita, a Jesuit in charge of Missione Urbana i.e. of preaching to the farm labourers of the Roman Campagna, especially to those who worked on a seasonal basis. The oratory became known as Oratorio del Caravita, a corruption of Father Gravita's surname; the building was used for musical performances and educational plays; it also housed a famous Macchina delle Quarant'Ore.

Piazza S. Ignazio

The theatre
Central building

The houses which stood opposite the church were redesigned in 1727-28 by Filippo Raguzzini, the preferred architect of Pope Benedict XIII; they did not belong to important families and they were split into flats. Raguzzini arranged them in a way that they resemble the stage of a theatre.

Excerpts from Giuseppe Vasi 1761 Itinerary related to this page:


Chiesa di S. Ignazio
Il Card. Lodovico Ludovisi nipote di Gregorio XV. eresse questo vasto tempio lĺan. 1626. col disegno del P. Grassi Gesuita, cavato quello del Domenichino, e dell'Algardi, di questo per˛ Ŕ disegno il prospetto. E' notabile, che cavandosi i fondamenti verso la chiesa di s. Macuto, fu trovata la statua di Minerva, e fu ancora scoperto parte di un acquedotto, che fu creduto dell'acqua vergine; e perchŔ era incrostato di marmi, e ornato di colonne, e di statue, si credette, che ivi facesse la principale sua comparsa.
Fu terminata la chiesa l'anno 1685. ed ornata principalmente nella volta, nella tribuna, ed altare maggiore colle pitture a fresco del P. Andrea Pozzi Gesuita, il quale dipinse ancora la cupola finta; ed il P. Pietro Latri similmente Gesuita fece i quadri delle cappelle, fuor che quello della cappella del Patriarca s. Giuseppe dipinto da Francesco Trevisani, insieme con un laterale, essendo lĺaltro di Giuseppe Chiari, e la cupola di Luigi Garzi; il s. Gioacchino per˛ nella cappella che siegue Ŕ di Stefano Pozzi. E' ammirabile poi la crociata di questa chiesa per li due altari eretti egualmente secondo il disegno del suddetto P. Pozzi, ed ornati di preziosi marmi, lapislazzoli, e metalli dorati, specialmente quello , in cui si custodisce il corpo di s. Luigi Gonzaga; essendovi il grande bassorilievo in marmo fatto da Mons¨ le Gros Francese, e quello d'incontro colla ss. Nunziata di Filippo Valle Fiorentino. Similmente Ŕ ammirabile il deposito di Gregorio XV. fatto col disegno del mentovato le Gros, il quale scolpý il ritratto del Card. Ludovisi, le altre sculture per˛ sono di Mons¨ Mon˛.
Oratorio di S. Francesco Saverio detto del P. Caravita
Dal P. Pietro Caravita Gesuita fu eretto quell'Oratorio l'anno 1611. per esercitarvi alcune opere spirituali specialmente la parola di Dio ogni sera, e la comunione generale ogni mese. Sonovi nel portico delle Pitture di Lazaro Bardi, e nell'altare maggiore del Cav. Conca.

Next plate in Book 9: S. Apollinare e Collegio Germanico
Next step in Day 1 itinerary: Chiesa di S. Macuto
Next step in tour of Rione Pigna: Chiesa di S. Chiara