The figure of San Filippo Neri, ”Apostolo di Roma”, canonized in 1622, is historically tied to the church of Santa Maria in Vallicella.
In 1548 Filippo Neri, called “Pippo buono” by the people of Rome, founded the Confraternita dei Pellegrini e dei Convalescenti aiming at assisting the needy pilgrims that would arrive in Rome.
As a recognition to his efforts, Gregorio XIII gave him the church of Santa Maria in Vallicella (so called for the presence of a basin and documented from the XII century) as a gift.
The reconstruction of the church ("Chiesa Nuova"), began in 1575 by Pietro Bartolini from Città di Castello and went on through 1583 with Martino Longhi il Vecchio. In 1599 the church was consecrated.
The façade, following the model of the Chiesa del Gesù, was completed in 1605 and presents two orders articulated into Corinthian pilaster strips. In the lower part, the central portal opens up sided by columns and smaller portals. In the upper order, there is a window with a balustrade amidst columns that support a curved tympanum.
The two sides, show two niches with statues of San Girolamo and San Gregorio Magno. The interior, with three naves and vaulted roofing, presents a big central hall sided by communicating chapels.
In the main nave’s roofing, dome and apse there are frescoes by Pietro da Cortona.
The altar is decorated by Rubens’s masterpiece “Angeli in Venerazione della Madonna” (1608), a painting the coversthe old canvas of the "Vergine con Bambino"; Rubens also carried out the two sidecanvases portraying “SS. Gregorio Magno, Mauro e Papia” and "SS.Domitilla, Nereo and Achilleo” (1608).
To the left from the presbitery the chapel dedicated to San Filippo Neri is rich of precious marbles, semi-precious stone and nacre. Paintings by Pietro da Cortona, Alessandro Algardi, Guido Reni and Guercino, decorate the sacristy carried out in 1629.
THE ROOMS OF SAN FILIPPO NERI
A side door of the transept leads to the corridor overlooking the entrance to the sacristy and to the private rooms of San Filippo, including the Red Room and the internal Chapel located on the ground floor.
The Red Room contains relics and memories of the Saint, including the splendid Banner created for the canonization. The vault has a beautiful fresco illustrating an episode from the life of Philip saved by a miraculous intervention of the Virgin Mary.
The internal chapel is the natural extension of the apse of the Chapel of the Saint in the church. On the altar, the intense portrait of St. Philip in prayer has been attributed to Guercino.
A spiral staircase leads to the upper chambers which faithfully reproduce the original ones of the Saint, located in the other wing of the complex and partly destroyed by fire and demolished. The first environment is the chapel on whose altar is placed the original of the splendid painting by Guido Reni representing the "Santo in ginocchio dinanzi alla Vergine" (The Saint on his knees before the Virgin), whose copy is located in the Chapel of the Saint inside the church.
The confessional of the saint and his bed are kept in the cupboards together with the relics.
Attached to the chapel is the private Oratory of San Filippo, transported entirely from the ancient house.
Unlike other rooms of saints existing in Rome, the chapel was rebuilt and preserved in its poverty. The walls blackened by time, the worn floor, the rough wooden altar and the ceiling of wooden tablets, despite the necessary restoration work, have preserved their original appearance.
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