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San Norberto

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San Norberto is a lost monastic church which used to be on the east side of what is now Via Agostino Depretis, opposite the Piazza di Viminale in the rione Castro Pretorio (the historic rione Monti).

The dedication was to St Norbert.

HistoryEdit

It was built in the reign of Pope Urban VIII (1623-44) for a monastery which was the Roman headquarters of the Premonstratensian order. This order of canons regular following the Augustinian rule is now more usually referred to as the Norbertines after their founder, St Norbert of Xanten.

There was a thorough restoration or re-building in the latter part of the 18th century.

The monastery was suppressed during the French occupation, and not re-founded. In the 1833 it was occupied by the SIsters of Our Lady of the Refuge on Mount Calvary (Suore di Nostra Signora di Rifugio in Monte Calvario), two of whom are depicted in front of the façade in a watercolour of 1835 by Achille Pinelli. (See "De Alvariis gallery" in "External links", below.)

The convent was secularized in 1873, and demolished at the end of the 19th century. However, the sisters now have a church in the rione Esquilino -Santa Maria Addolorata all’Esquilino. If you visit this, you will see two 18th century pictures of holy Premonstratensians that the sisters took with them when they were expelled.

The present Premonstratensian headquarters in Rome is at Viale Giotto 27 near Porta San Paolo; it is known as the Colleggio San Norberto.

LocationEdit

The site is opposite the Piazza del Viminale. An ornate neo-Baroque doorway in a modern building marks the location, although the line of the façade is probably given by the present kerbline of the street. This church was almost opposite Santa Maria della Sanità, only a little further to the north-east.

AppearanceEdit

This was a small church. The plan was based on a cross, with a long and narrow nave and transept having two external side chapels. The elevation was incorporated into the domestic arpartments of the convent, which occupied the streetfront on both sides and ran as far as the Via del Viminale. There was no cloister, and the church had no proper façade.

The ornate entrance, in a Baroque style, was a striking design. Two pairs of conjoined and rusticated Doric pilasters on plinths, arranged with the outer pair recessed, flanked the door and had another two pairs in the same style placed on top of them without the intervention of any entablature or plinths. The inner pair of this second stack of pilasters supported a pair of incurved strapwork volutes which in turn supported a balcony with iron railings, this last belonging to a domestic window above.

The doorcase had the saint's name, S. Noberto, on the lintel. Above this was a rectangular window with an incurved top; between the curve and the balcony was fitted an elliptical tondo with a stucco relief of the saint, and with large supporting putti in stucco. In between the window and the tondo was a molded split ogee archivolt, shaped rather like the outline of a volcano.

The altarpieces of the two side altars were by Stefano Pozzi.

External linksEdit

Nolli map (look for 189)

De Alvariis gallery on Flickr

Info.roma web-page for Colleggio

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