Dominican church and priory
Maria sopra Minerva

A brief description.

Details of the ruined temple to Minerva, built by Pompey about 50 B.C., referred to as Delubrum Minervae are not known. A temple to Isis and a Serapeum may also underlie the present basilica and its former convent buildings, for in 1665 an Egyptian obelisk was found, buried in the garden of the Dominican cloister adjacent to the church. There are other Roman survivals in the crypt. The ruined temple is likely to have lasted until the reign of Pope Zachary (741-752), who finally Christianized the site, offering it to Eastern monks. The structure he commissioned has disappeared.
The present building owes its existence to the Dominican Friars, who received the property from Pope Alexander IV (1254-1261) and made the church and adjoining monastery their headquarters before later establishing it in Santa Sabina. The Dominican Order still administers the area today.
Two talented Dominican friars, Fra Sisto Fiorentino and Fra Ristoro da Campi, who had worked on the church of Santa Maria Novella in Florence, began the present structure in 1280, during the pontificate of Nicholas III. With the help of funds contributed by Boniface VIII, this first Gothic church in Rome was completed in 1370. It was renovated by Carlo Maderno and others, given a Baroque facade, then restored in the 19th century to its present neo-medieval state. The gates are from the 15th century.

Saint Catherine of Siena is buried here, except her head, which is in the church of Saint Dominic in Siena. Beyond the sacristy, the room where she died in 1380 was reconstructed here by Antonio Cardinal Barberini in 1637. This room is the first transplanted interior, and the progenitor of familiar 19th and 20th century museum "period rooms." The frescoes by Antoniazzo Romano that decorated the original walls, however, are now lost.

Michelangelo's Christ the Redeemer near the altar (1521).
The famous early Renaissance painter Fra Angelico died in the adjoining priory, and is buried here also, as is Pope Paul IV and the Medici popes Leo X and Clement VII. In the Cappella Carafa the famous frescoes by Filippino Lippi (1489).
Before the construction of San Giovanni dei Fiorentini, the Minerva was the church of the Florentine nation, and therefore it houses numerous tombs of prelates, nobles and citizens coming from that Tuscan city. Curiously, Diotisalvi Neroni, a refugee who had took part in the plot against Piero de' Medici, was buried here in 1482, and was later joined by other members of the family.

The sacristy was the seat of two conclaves. The first, held in the March 1431, elected Pope Eugene IV, the second, in March 1447, Pope Nicholas V.

Source: Wikipedia


The head of Christ the Redeemer by Michelangelo (1521).
Part of the marble statue, 205 cm.

Grenada Grenadines 1975, Mi 77, Sc 73.




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