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

Chiesa di S. Maria delle Fornaci  (Book 7) (Day 8) (Map D2)

In this page:
 The plate by Giuseppe Vasi
 Today's view (S. Angelo alle Fornaci)
 S. Maria delle Grazie alle Fornaci
 The Trinitarian Order

The Plate (No. 128 - ii)

Fornaci means kilns; several kilns were located outside the walls surrounding the Vatican because their bricks were used for the construction of Basilica di S. Pietro; the full name of the monastery and church shown in the plate is S. Maria delle Grazie; because another church by the same name was located in Borgo the reference to Fornaci was necessary to distinguish them. The plate shows in the background a circular tower inside the Vatican gardens.
The view is taken from the green dot in the 1748 map below. In the description below the plate Vasi made reference to: 1) S. Maria delle Fornaci; 2) Fornaci dei mattoni (brick kilns). The small map shows also 3) S. Angelo alle Fornaci.


The view in March 2010

The area around S. Maria delle Fornaci was developed in the XXth century and high apartment blocks have replaced the kilns; by observing the church from an askew position it is possible to include in the view the dome of S. Pietro.
The church and the adjoining monastery were not affected by the 1849 fights which occurred off Porta Cavalleggeri during the defence of Rome by Giuseppe Garibaldi; the exchanges of artillery fire led to the destruction of S. Angelo alle Fornaci, a small parish church for the families of those who worked at the kilns, which was located near Porta Fabrica; in 1850 S. Maria delle Grazie became the parish church for the neighbourhood and it still retains this function.

S. Maria delle Grazie

(left) Fašade; (right) door of the monastery

The construction of the church started in 1694 and the fašade was completed in 1727; it is generally attributed to Filippo Raguzzini; its design reminds of Borromini's Oratorio dei Filippini. It is not clear why a remote and unprotected location was chosen for building such a large church; the original plan included a dome which was never completed. In the XXth century a bell tower in line with the style of the church was built at the side of the apse.

(left) Apse and bell tower; (right) interior

The Trinitarian Order

(left) Stucco decoration above the entrance; (right-above) inscription on the balustrade; (right-below) symbol of the Trinitarians on the floor

The Trinitarian Order was founded in 1198 by Sts. John of Matha and Felix de Valois; the latter is portrayed in the image used as background for this page which is based on a painting by Onofrio Avellino inside the church. The mission of the order was to ransom Christians who had been captured and sold as slaves in Muslim countries. The fist institution of the order in Rome was located in S. Tommaso in Formis. The order knew a period of great development towards the end of the XVIth century when Ottoman corsair raids along the Mediterranean coasts and attacks on ships greatly increased the number of captured Christians; the corsairs' threat gradually subsided but it still was significant in the early XXth century (what happened in 1805 to Antonietta Frapolli, an Italian woman sold to the Bey of Algiers, provided the plot for Rossini's Italiana in Algeri). Today the mission of the order is more generically that of assisting those who suffer hardship.
Other monasteries of the Trinitarians in Rome were located at S. Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, S. Dionigi Areopagita (lost), Chiesa della SS. TrinitÓ in Via Condotti and S. Crisogono.

Excerpts from Giuseppe Vasi 1761 Itinerary related to this page:

Chiesa di s. Maria delle Fornaci
Fuori di questa porta evvi la chiesa di s. Maria delle fornaci col convento de' frati Trinitarj scalzi, ed ancora la chiesa parrocchiale di s. Angelo cognominata, come l'altra, per le molte fornaci, che sono quivi da cuocere i mattoni, e altri lavori di creta; e la via si crede da alcuni che sia l'Aurelia vecchia.

Next plate in Book 7: Chiesa di S. Sabina
Next step in Day 8 itinerary: Porta Fabbrica