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San Giorgio e dei Martiri Inglesi

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San Giorgio e dei Martiri Inglesi is an early 20th century convent church at Via San Sebastianello 16, just north of the bottom of the Spanish Steps. Picture of the church on Wikimedia Commons here.

This is an English national church.

NameEdit

The dedication is to St George and to the English Martyrs of the Reformation, and the name in English is "St George and the Martyrs of England". The latter are now all those martyred for the faith in England after the Reformation, whether canonized or beatified, but no longer includes the six martyred in Wales. This is because Wales now has its own national calendar.

Do not confuse this church with San Giorgio in Velabro, which is not an English national church.

Confusingly, the convent as a whole is dedicated to Mary, Mother of God and its name is Istituto Mater Dei.

LocationEdit

The convent containing the church is at the end of the right hand side of the street, just before it turns a right angle to the left and goes up a ramp.

HistoryEdit

The congregation of the Poor Servants of the Mother of God was founded in 1869 in London, England by Mother Magdalen Taylor, an Englishwoman who in secular life had worked with Florence Nightingale in the Crimean War. She was assisted by Lady Georgiana Fullerton, who was a noted religious novelist of the time. 

The congregation received papal approval in 1879, and a convent was opened in Rome in 1887. This was paid for by Prince Alessandro Torlonia, and the Fullerton family of English Catholic gentry (Georgiana had just died).

In 1890, the Guild of Our Lady of Ransom was founded here to pray for the "Conversion of England" (meaning the re-union of the Anglican Communion with the Roman Catholic Church). It is a puzzle as to why a purely Spanish devotion to Our Lady was chosen for this -the "Ransom" refers to money collected by Mercedarians to buy back Christians enslaved by North African Muslims.

In 1895, a copy of a famous ancient fresco of the Mother and Child in the catacombs of Santa Priscilla was enshrined here, under the title of "Our Lady, Queen of the Prophets".

The convent and church were rebuilt by Carlo Maria Busiri Vici in 1908, resulting in the present structure.

Like most active religious orders of women, the congregation has suffered a serious reduction in vocations since the mid 20th century. It used to run two schools in the Diocese of Rome as well as this convent, but the former were given up in 1992. Only two sisters are now listed as resident in the diocese.

The mother house is the Mayfield Convent at Roehampton, London SW15 4JA, England.

ExteriorEdit

The church has no façade, but a simple entrance with a round-arched floating brick canopy enclosing a tympanum mosaic showing the Sacred Initials (IHS) with rays.

InteriorEdit

The high altar is from the demolished church of Santa Teresa alle Quattro Fontane, and donated by Prince Torlonia who had bought it at auction. The painting of St Gregory the Great is by Cesare Dies.

The two side altars, of Our Lady and the Sacred Heart, came from the demolished church of Sant’Elisabetta dei Fornari.

The mural frescoes are by Eugenio Cisterna.

External linksEdit

Official diocesan web-page

Italian Wikipedia page

Congregation's website

Convent web-page

Info.roma web-page

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