The church has ancient origins and irecalls the name of the ropemakers (the Funari) who were once very numerous in this part of the city. In the 12th century, when it was first attested, it was known as Santa Maria Dominae Rosae or Sancta Maria in castro aureo, because it was believed that the church stood on part of the Circus Flaminius (at the time called Castrum Aureum).
In 1536 Pope Paul III granted the complex to St Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits. The saint wished to open a shelter here for fanciulle povere, who were described as the still virgin daughters of prostitutes. In 1560 Ignatius suggested to Cardinal Federico Cesi to rebuild the church, which was then dedicated to St Catherine of Alexandria. The architect in charge was Guidetto Guidetti, an apprentices of Michelangelo. The work was completed in 1564.
The travertine façade, with evident references to Renaissance models, is enriched by swags of fruit embellished with ribbons. The singular bell tower dates back to the same period and is based on a pre-existing medieval tower with a hemispherical stone cupola. The interior is a single nave with a large rectangular apse as a presbyterium. It has remarkable works of art, including the image of St Margaret of Antioch ìby Annibale Carracci, the Deposition by Girolamo Muziano, the Stories of St Catherine by Federico Zuccari. The adjoining monastery was demolished in 1940.
For the timetable of the masses and visiting conditions, please consult the contacts.
To find out about all accessibility services, visit the Rome accessible section.