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San Gaetano alla Villa Medici

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  San Gaetano alla Villa Medici is a deconsecrated early 18th century devotional chapel in the grounds of the Villa Medici, which is on the Pincian Hill in the rione Campo Marzio.

  The dedication was to St Cajetan.

HistoryEdit

St Cajetan was one of the great Counter-Reformation religious founders, and in his case was responsible for the foundation of the Theatines. With twelve companions he made vows at St Peter's in Rome in 1524, but in 1527 the Sack of Rome took place. The small community took refuge in a farm building on the slopes of the Pincian, where they had to put up with much abuse from the Imperial soldiery intent on extorting money.

The Villa Medici did not exist then, but was built soon after (construction started in 1564). The shed in a vineyard where St Cajetan took shelter was remembered, however, and in 1704 a small chapel was consecrated on its site.  This was in a casino on the edge of what had been laid out as the main garden of the villa.

The original importance of this little chapel was that, until recently, it was the only separate church building in Rome dedicated to the saint. The Theatines set up their grand headquarters at Sant'Andrea della Valle, but on the saint's feast-day of 7 August had a solemn celebration in his honour here. References in old pilgrim biographies to attending Mass at "the chapel at the Villa Medici" almost certainly refer to here, and not to the private house chapel in the villa itself.

The Nolli map of 1748 shows the casino with a single wing, but later in that century another wing was added.

The chapel fell into disuse in the later 20th century, and is now deconsecrated. The saint finally has his own modern parish church in Rome, San Gaetano.

LocationEdit

The chapel was in the L-shaped building in the westernmost corner of the villa's main garden, where it abuts onto the Pincio. It was located on the ground floor, at the south-western end of the main range. This is in the section of the present building with the pyramidal roof.

The access was through the garden.

AppearanceEdit

It was a simple rectangular room. Originally, the building had three storeys with a two-storey extension to its right (north-east). Then a single-storey wing was added perpendicularly to the latter, and finally the two annexes were raised to the same height as the main block. There used to be a bellcote with a single bell on the roof of the two-storey portion, where it abutted onto the main block.

There was a dedicatory inscription over the doorway, but no other external signs that there was a chapel here.

External linksEdit

Nolli map (look for 394)

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