The church stands in the Monti district in the place where there was an ancient 13th century monastery which housed a community of Poor Clares. Built starting in 1580 by Giacomo della Porta on behalf of Pope Gregory XIII following a miraculous healing of a blind woman by the icon of the Madonna found on the spot, it still retains its original appearance.
The simple façade, which is inspired by the Church of the Gesù, the work of the same architect, has two orders of pilasters connected to each other by lateral volutes and is crowned by triangular tympanums and punctuated by Corinthian pilasters and four niches.
The interior, with a single nave, preserves many valuable works. On the vault there is a fresco of the Ascension, between angels and doctors of the Church by Cristoforo Casolani (early 17th century); in the vault and in the arches of the chapels there are stucco angels from 1588, the work of Ambrogio Buonvicino. On the main altar we find instead the image considered miraculous of the Virgin with Child and Saints Stefano and Lorenzo (from the early 15th century).
The apse is decorated with wonderful paintings by Giacinto Gimignani (San Michele Crucifixion, St. Peter baptizing the Saints Process and Martiniano, Apparition of Christ to the Virgin and Baptism of Christ) and by Casolani (stories of Mary and the Evangelists); above, angels by Orazio Gentileschi (1599) are depicted. Other important works are the altarpiece by Antonio Viviani (copy of Michelangelo's Pietà) in the Chapel of the Pietà, the frescoes by Lattanzio Mainardi and Paris Nogari.
Photo credits: courtesy of Church of Santa Maria ai Monti Facebook Page
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