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Sant'Andrea dei Pescivendoli

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Sant'Andrea dei Pescivendoli is a deconsecrated 17th century oratory or chapel, immediately adjacent to Sant'Angelo in Pescheria on its east side in Via del Foro Pescario near the Ghetto. Pictures of the church on WIkimedia Commons are here.

The dedication was to St Andrew the Apostle.


The city's major fish market operated locally here for centuries, up until the archaeologists began to clear the area at the end of the 19th century. 

In 1571, the guild of fishmongers (Università dei Pescivendoli) took over responsibility for the chapel of St Andrew (now the Blessed Sacrament chapel) in the local parish church of Sant'Angelo. Their expensive and spectacular Baroque restoration of this chapel is probably the best thing in the church.

In 1687 the confraternity took over an ancillary building next to the church, and converted it into an oratory. The consecration was two years later, with a dedication to their patron saint.

There is an urban legend that the fishmongers allegedly worshipped separately because they smelled too bad to be welcome in Sant'Angelo, but this is utterly fanciful. Many Roman churches had oratories like this attached, but this one was unusual in that it amounted to a separate church with two side altars (most oratories only had one main altar).

In 1801 the guild was dissolved. However, the oratory then found a use as a private place of worship of a pious confraternity associated with the Caracciolo family.

It was deconsecrated in the late 20th century, and ownership reverted to the Municipality which rents the premises out to private commercial tenants. The latest are Leone Limentani, an old Jewish retail firm which sells a wide range of household items, much of very high quality.


The facade is part of a larger domestic building, of which the oratory occupied the ground floor. It is a simple rectangular space, with a door into the right hand aisle of Sant'Angelo.

The doorcase has a dedicatory inscription over the lintel, reading Locus orationis venditorum piscium which translates "The place of prayer of those selling fish". Above this is a very fine relief of St Andrew, carrying his X-shaped cross. A boat on a rough sea is behind him, and a fish is apparently trying to chew his robe as he watches it. There is a putto's head in a scallop shell above him, and the frame is flanked by a pair of volutes with ribbons, floral motifs and acanthus leaves.

The relief is flanked by a pair of windows each crowned by a scallop shell under an detached arc cornice. Above the relief is a very large lunette window occupying the whole width of the facade. The curve of this is interesting, since it is not semi-circular but assymetric. The reason why the window is so large is because the narrow rectangular chapel had no other natural light apart from a matching window at the far end.


The main altar had an altarpiece of Our Lady with SS Peter and Andrew by Giuseppe Ghezzi.

Five paintings by Lazzaro Baldi were on the side walls, part of a series of eight depicting The Calls and Martyrdoms of SS Peter and Andrew. The other three were anonymous. The cycles were (in chronological order):

Left hand wall. St Peter and the Miraculous Catch of Fish, St Peter Receiving the Keys, The Martyrdom of St Peter (anon) and The Burial of St Peter (anon).

Right hand wall. Martyrdom of St Andrew: Crucifixion, Death, Deposition (anon), Burial.

The two side altars had anonymous Flemish paintings of the 17th century.

The ceiling has a depiction of SS Peter and Andrew in Glory.

A glass security screen has recently been installed in the front entrance, through which the interior can usually be viewed. The retail firm in occupation has very kindly been leaving the outer doors open for people to be able to window-shop the items within.
2011 Andrea dei Pescivolendi

Night-time shot of the interior through the glass screen.

The interior is a rectangular space with a barrel-vaulted ceiling. All religious items seem to have been removed, but the background decoration survives. This is based on rectangular Corinthian pilasters springing from a string course at some distance from the floor, and these look as if they are made of red marble (but probably are not).

The paintings by Baldi ended up in the sacristy of San Cosimato in Trastevere, but it is hoped to restore these and exhibit them in a more accessible location.

External linkEdit

Italian Wikipedia page

Info.roma web-page

Nolli map (look for 1021)

"Micaaurea" web-page on Baldi paintings

Leone Limentani website

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