Oratorio del Caballero de Gracia

This little known chapel is located at Gran Via, 17B. It was designed by the architect Juan de Villanueva, the architect who designed the Prado Museum, for the Real Congregacion de Esclavos del Santisimo Sacramento. The style is Neoclassic and like the Roman basilicas during the time of the Emperor Constantine, with a basilical ground plan, a semicircular apse, and three naves separated by 14 Corinthian columns. This work is one of the most beautiful buildings designed by Juan de Villanueva. There is a very large cupola over the main altar that allows much light to shine on the altar. There is a statue of Christ called the Santisimo Cristo de la Agonia, made in the 17th century, by the artist Juan Sanchez Barba, and this is considered as one of the most important Spanish sculptures of the 17th century. The silver tabernacle is attributed to the silversmith Domingo de Urquiza.

The Caballero de Gracia was Jacopo Gratii, an Italian noble born in Modena. He lived between 1517 and 1619 and was a relative of Pope Urban VII. In his youth he lived the life of a Don Juan, trying to seduce many women. He fell in love with a lady and asked the lady's maid to put an elixir of love into the lady's cup so that she would fall in love with him. Unexpectedly, he saw a vision of heaven that told him to repent and abandon his vices. This changed his life completely and he spent his fortune in building monasteries and convents. He also became a priest. He founded a convent in Madrid and founded an association which had the mission to promote the devotion to the Eucharist. He wanted to construct his chapel in Madrid, but died before completing his dream. Carlos III finally ordered it built by Juan de Villanueva in the 18th century. It was started in 1786 and finished by his Villanueva's disciple Custodio Moreno. This church is very quiet and people go there to meditate.