|Sant’Eligio dei Sellai|
|English name:||St Eligius of the Saddle Makers|
|Address:||Via della Gensola|
Sant’Eligio dei Sellai was an 18th century confraternity church that used to stand in Piazza della Gensola, just west of the Trastevere end of Ponte Cestio, and north of Via della Lungaretta. The piazza is gone, and is now occupied by part of Via della Gensola.
The church is also referred to in the sources as Sant'Eligio dei Sellari or de' Sellari. It was dedicated to St Eligius of Noyon.
It was built in 1740 for the guild of saddle makers, the architect being Carlo de Dominicis. This architect also did work on the façades of Santi Bartolomeo ed Alessandro dei Bergamaschi, San Salvatore alle Coppelle and Santi Celso e Giuliano. However, this church was his most important work in Rome.
The confraternity left the church in 1801, during the French occupation. It was taken over by the Congregazione degli Esercizi Spirituali di Ponte Rotto, which ran it for a century. This local pious society was founded by Gioacchino Michelini, a priest who was very active in charitable works. The area had become a notorious slum, and the local people (especially orphaned children) were in need of help. He used his own money to restore the interior decoration of the church.
The church survived the building of the Lungotevere degli Anguillara, which passed just to the north. However, in 1902 it was in a derelict state and was demolished after part of the structure collapsed.
The present Via della Gensola is made up of several small streets consolidated when the Lungotevere was built. To find the site of the church, go south along it from the Lungotevere degli Anguillara. The modern building on the right occupies the site of the church and the piazza; the entrance to the former was opposite where the old building on the left is.
According to the Nolli map, the very small church before 1740 had the plan of a Greek cross, with the transept arms being shorter than the presbyterium arm. The nave arm had a trapezoidal shape internally, with the entrance wall narrow.
The rebuilt church was circular, with a pair of side chapels accommodated in segmental apses to each side and another apse for the main altar. There was an unusual hemispherical dome, with fish-scale tiles and ending in a ball finial instead of a lantern. This was set on a flat roof.
The exterior wall of the church was in two storeys. The first one was decorated with tripletted Ionic pilasters supporting a continuous entablature with a strongly projecting cornice, and the second had matching tripletted Doric pilasters supporting a projecting cornice only which occupied the roofline of the flat roof. The entrance was monumental, being flanked by a pair of Ionic columns in the round which reached to the entablature. The doorcase itself had no pilasters, but was topped by a pediment which had an ogee curve -the architect's motif.
The second storey had two halves of a divided segmental pediment placed on the first storey's cornice over the capitals of the entrance columns. Above these was a large vertical elliptical window, and the top cornice formed a canopy over this by means of four incurved arcs brought together to form a quasi-pediment.
Inside, the altarpiece of the main altar, depicting the patron saint, was by Carlo Mussi.
This was a very attractive and important little building. Its downfall was that it was situated in a slum district, and had no friends at the end of the 19th century when it needed repair.