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Rome - Santa Maria sopra Minerva

From Wikipedia:

Santa Maria sopra Minerva (English: Saint Mary above Minerva, Latin: Sancta Maria supra Minervam) is one of the major churches of the Roman Catholic Order of Preachers, better known as the Dominicans. The church's name derives from the fact that the first Christian church structure on the site was built directly over (Latin: supra) the ruins or foundations of a temple dedicated to the Egyptian goddess Isis, which had been erroneously ascribed to the Greco-Roman goddess Minerva.
The church is located in the Piazza della Minerva one block behind the Pantheon in the Pigna rione of Rome, Italy, within the ancient district known as the Campus Martius. The present church and disposition of surrounding structures is visible a detail from the Nolli Map of 1748.
The Minerva has been a titular church since 1557 and a minor basilica since 1566. The church's first titular cardinal was Michele Ghislieri who would become Pope Pius V in 1566 and raise the church to the level of minor basilica that same year.
The church and adjoining convent served at various times throughout its history as the Dominican Order's headquarters. Today the headquarters have been re-established in their original location at the Roman convent of Santa Sabina.
While many other medieval churches in Rome have been given Baroque makeovers that cover Gothic structures, the Minerva is the only extant example of original Gothic church building in Rome. Behind a restrained Renaissance style façade] the Gothic interior features arched vaulting that was painted blue with gilded stars and trimmed with brilliant red ribbing in a 19th-century Neo-Gothic restoration.
Among several important works of art in the church are Michelangelo's statue Cristo della Minerva (1521) and the late 15th-century (1488–1493) cycle of frescos in the Carafa Chapel by Filippino Lippi. The basilica also houses many funerary monuments including the tombs of Doctor of the Church Saint Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), who was a member of the Third Order of Saint Dominic, and the Dominican friar Blessed John of Fiesole (Fra Giovanni da Fiesole, born Guido di Piero) better known as Fra Angelico (c. 1395-1455).

History
In Roman times there were three temples in what is now the area surrounding the basilica and former convent buildings: the Minervium, built by Gnaeus Pompey in honour of the goddess Minerva about 50 BC, referred to as Delubrum Minervae; the Iseum dedicated to Isis, and the Serapeum dedicated to Serapis. Details of the temple to Minerva are not known but recent investigations indicate that a small round Minervium once stood a little further to east on the Piazza of the Collegio Romano. In 1665 an Egyptian obelisk was found, buried in the garden of the Dominican cloister adjacent to the church. Several other small obelisks were found at different times near the church, known as the Obelisci Isei Campensis, which were probably brought to Rome during the 1st century and grouped in pairs, with others, at the entrances of the temple of Isis.[5] 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 Basilian nuns from Constantinople who maintained an oratorio there dedicated to the "Virgin of Minervum.". The structure he commissioned has disappeared.
In 1255 Pope Alexander IV established a community of converted women on the site. A decade later this community was transferred to the Roman Church of San Pancrazio thereby allowing the Dominicans to establish a convent of friars and a studium conventuale there. The Friars were on site beginning in 1266 but took official possession of the Church in 1275. Aldobrandino Cavalcanti (+1279), “vicarius Urbis” or vicar for Pope Gregory X, and an associate of Thomas Aquinas ratified the donation of Santa Maria sopra Minerva to the Dominicans of Santa Sabina by the sisters of S. Maria in Campo Marzio. The ensemble of buildings that formed around the church and convent came to be known as the 'insula sapientae" or "insula dominicana' (island of wisdom or Dominican island). The Dominicans began building the present Gothic church in 1280 modelling it on their church in Florence Santa Maria Novella. Architectural plans were probably drawn up during the pontificate of Nicholas III by two Dominican friars, Fra Sisto Fiorentino and Fra Ristoro da Campi. With the help of funds contributed by Boniface VIII and the faithful the side aisles were completed in the 14th century.
In 1453 church interior construction was finally completed when Cardinal Juan Torquemada ordered that the main nave be covered by a vault that reduced the overall projected height of the church.[3] In the same year of 1453 Count Francesco Orsini sponsored the construction of the façade at his own expense. However work on the façade remained incomplete until 1725 when it was finally finished by order of Pope Benedict XIII. The sacristy of the Church was the site of two Papal conclaves. The first, held in the March 1431, elected Pope Eugene IV, the second, in March 1447, Pope Nicholas V.
In the 16th century Giuliano da Sangallo made changes in the choir area and in 1600 Carlo Maderno enlarged the apse, added Baroque decorations and created the present façade with its pilastered tripartite division in Renaissance style.
Marks on this façade dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries indicate various flood levels of the Tiber 65 feet (20 metres).
Between 1848 and 1855 Girolamo Bianchedi directed an important program of restoration when most of the Baroque additions were removed and the blank walls were covered with neo-gothic frescos giving the interior the Neo-Gothic appearance that it has today.
The basilica's stained glass windows are mostly from the 19th century.
In 1909 the great organ was constructed by the renowned firm of Carlo Vegezzi Bossi. The organ was restored in 1999.

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Additional Photos by Romano Lattanzi (Romano46) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1089 W: 0 N: 2642] (16578)
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