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San Salvatore ad Tres Images

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San Salvatore ad Tres Images was a small church that used to stand on the west side of the Piazza Suburra, just on the junction with Via Cavour in a former slum area and red-light district called the Suburra .

The dedication was to Jesus Christ; the name was also rendered as San Salvatore delle Tre Imagini or "The Holy Saviour of the Three Images". Other names were San Salvatore agli Olmi or "at the elms", and alla Suburra.

HistoryEdit

This little church was first recorded in 1244 as a chapel dependent on Santa Maria Maggiore. The name refers to three marble busts of Christ, which used to be over the entrance and which were a symbol of the Trinity.

It was allegedly restored at the start of the 16th century because it was adjacent to a flight of stairs leading to the house of Vannozza Cattanei. She was the mistress of Pope Alexander VI, and inscriptions recording this restoration by Stefano Copo are preserved on the wall of a modern building adjacent.

In 1582 the church was made dependent on Santi Sergio e Bacco, but it was allowed to fall into ruin and was deconsecrated in 1650. The Minim friars resident at the nearby monastery of San Francesco da Paola decided to buy it, and restored and re-consecrated it with a dedication to their founder St Francis of Paola. This was an obvious source of confusion with their own monastery church, so the locals called the little church San Franceschino or "Little St Francis". It was the headquarters of a lay confraternity named after the saint.

The church was demolished in 1884 to make way for Via Cavour.

LocationEdit

Before Via Cavour was built, Via Urbana ran through to the foot of the steps leading up to San Pietro in Vincoli. The Via Leonina ran through into the Via delle Sette Sale, forming a crossroads where the Piazza della Suburra was located. The church was in the angle between the Via Urbana and Via Leonina just west of the piazza, with an orientation north to south and its entrance on the Via Leonina.

The present Piazza della Suburra is not the same as the old one, which was where the Cavour metro station entrance now is. The site of the church is now the little triangular car park to the west of the latter.

AppearanceEdit

This was a very small church, having a single rectangular nave and a tiny square apse without a triumphal arch. It had no separate architectural identity, being incorporated into a larger domestic building with storeys above.

The striking Baroque façade had an ornate entrance, with a marble doorcase having its upper corners chamfered and supporting a horizontal entablature. Above this was a large square window, and to either side was a Corinthian semi-column flanked by a pair of pilasters thus forming a triplet.

The triplets were continued above their capitals by inverted plinths supporting projecting cornices, either side of a large stucco glory focussing on the word Charitas. This was enclosed above by a molded archvolt, with the central portion recessed.

External linksEdit

"Romeartlover" web-page

Nolli map (look for 66)

"Romasegreta" web-page

"De Alvariis" gallery on Flickr

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