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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 April 2010.

Chiesa di S. Maria delle Grazie (Book 7) (Day 8) (View C2) (Rione Borgo)

In this page:
 The plate by Giuseppe Vasi
 Today's view and S. Giovanni Battista degli Spinelli
 New S. Maria delle Grazie

The Plate (No. 122 - ii)

The pilgrims who reached Rome along Via Cassia and Via Flaminia usually crossed the River Tiber at Ponte Milvio and entered the city at Porta del Popolo; the most pious ones and those could not afford staying in the inns near that gate, could directly reach S. Pietro via Strada Angelica, a road opened in 1563 by Pope Pius IV (Giovanni Angelo de' Medici) between the said bridge and Porta Angelica in the walls surrounding the Vatican. In the late XVIth century a small church and a hostel for poor pilgrims were built next to Porta Angelica at the initiative of two gentlemen from Calabria, a region of southern Italy. They collected contributions for the construction of the buildings by saying Facemo bene adesso che havemo tempo (Let's do good deeds now that we have time); you can see their motto in the image used as background for this page.
In the early XVIIth century the church and the adjoining building were entirely rebuilt at the initiative of Cardinal Marcello Lante.


(left) Sacred image on the site of the church; (right) fountain which was located on the side of the church and which has been moved to a nearby street

S. Maria delle Grazie was the last historical church of Rome to be pulled down. This occurred in 1939 when the walls surrounding the Vatican were in part redesigned. Porta Angelica was pulled down as well as the section of the walls which from that gate reached Porta Castello; a new curtain of walls marked the border between Italy and the Vatican City State; the street along the new walls was enlarged and this led to pulling down S. Maria delle Grazie. A mosaic and an inscription on a modern building indicate the approximate location of the church.
S. Giovanni Battista degli Spinelli was a small church for the farmers of the vineyards outside Porta Angelica; Giuseppe Vasi shows it in his view and mentions it in his guide to Rome; it was also called S. Giovanni a Porta Angelica; it was pulled down when the area was developed in the late XIXth century.

(left) 1748 map by Giovan Battista Nolli: 1) S. Maria delle Grazie; 2) S. Giovanni Battista degli Spinelli; (right) modern map showing the redesign of the walls

New S. Maria delle Grazie

(left) Fašade; (right) altar of the old church

In 1941 a new church designed by Tullio Rossi was completed outside Porta Angelica not far from today's entrance to Musei Vaticani. The main altar of the old church was rearranged at the end of the left nave of new S. Maria delle Grazie. It houses a sacred image the founder of the church brought from the Holy Land.

Excerpts from Giuseppe Vasi 1761 Itinerary related to this page:

Chiesa di s. Maria delle Grazie
Questa chiesa fu eretta insieme col romitorio l'anno 1588. da un eremita per nome Ulbenzio Rossi della terra di Cedraro in Calabria, il quale essendo andato a visitare i luoghi santi di Gerusalemme, port˛ seco una piccola immagine della ss. Vergine, che in questa chiesa si venera sotto il titolo delle Grazie. Dipoi fu rinnovata la chiesa l'anno 1618. dal Card. Lanti, e vi seguitano ad abitare alcuni Eremiti mendicanti.
Chiesa di s. Gio. Battista degli Spinelli
Del nome e della fondazione di questa nulla si sa di sicuro: resta per˛ sotto la cura del Capitolo di s. Pietro in Vaticano.

Next plate in Book 7: Convento dei Padri Eremiti di S. Agostino

Next step in Day 8 itinerary: Porta Castello