This basilica is steps from one end of Piazza Navonna and also close to the Pantheon. So if you are in that area, you might want to take a look inside the basilica. It doesn’t look like much from the outside. It’s a big naked-looking building at the top of a plain flight of stairs. I almost passed it by, but since I spotted it in my early morning walk and wasn’t yet exhausted by sightseeing, I popped inside for a quick why-not look. Inside is beautiful!
Plus, there are major artworks. There’s a fresco of Isaiah by Raphael, painted in 1512 and clearly influenced by Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel. The high altar is by Bernini. Probably the biggest claim-to-fame for the basilica is a statue by Jacopo Sansovino found in a niche by the entrance—the Madonna del Parto, the Madonna of Childbirth. Many miracles have reportedly occurred in connection with this statue, and the basilica gained a lot of wealth because of the hordes of pilgrims who would travel to see the statue—especially women who were (or wanted to become) pregnant. Another very famous holding of the basilica is a painting by Caravaggio, the Madonna dei Pellegrini. It was a scandal when it premiered since it features Mary presenting Christ as a baby to two pilgrims. Mary’s naked feet and the lowly state of the tattered pilgrims were shocking at that time.
When I visited, the nave ceiling was covered by a protective tarp. But even with that distraction, the basilica was a great hidden treat, and I recommend a quick visit if you are in the neighborhood.
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