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Santa Francesca Romana a Strada Felice

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Santa Francesca Romana a Strada Felice was a 17th century convent church used to stand at Via Sistina 129, on its northern side just south-east of the junction with Via Zucchelli. This is in the rione Colonna.

The dedication was to St Frances of Rome, and lately also to St John Nepomucene.

Strada Felice was the original name of the Via Sistina. An alternative name for the church is del Riscatto, after a nickname for the Trinitarians.

HistoryEdit

The progenitor of this church was a mediaeval one in the Piazza di Pietra also in the rione Colonna, known as San Stefano del Trullo. The word trulla in Latin originally meant "wash-basin", and apparently the church occupied a low domed ancient building. It was in the charge of an Italian community of the Trinitarians by the 16th century, but they decided to move to higher ground to escape the malaria at the end of that century.

So, a small new monastery was built for them in 1614 on the north side of the Quirinal Hill, and dedicated to St Frances of Rome. The old church was demolished, and the land sold off. However, the first church edifice seems to have been badly built, because in 1676 in the reign of Pope Innocent XI there had to be a thorough restoration. The architect was Mattia de Rossi, who provided a new façade.

The Trinitarian community did not survive the French occupation, and in the early 19th century the complex was granted to a Franciscan sisterhood, the Zitelle Povere di Santa Francesca. They in turn were dispossessed in 1873.

However, the complex was restored for the Collegio Boemo or Czech seminary in 1884, and the church made into its chapel. As a result of this, the dedication was changed to Santa Francesca e San Giovanni Nepomuceno. However, the seminary moved away to become the present Pontifcio Collegio Nepomuceno in 1930. This is located on the Via Concordia, near the Re di Roma metro station.

After a period of disuse, the church and convent were demolished in 1946 and replaced by the Teatro Sistina. The theatre flourishes.

LocationEdit

The church occupied the part of the theatre façade to the left of the entrance and its canopy, just next to the Bar Sistina.

AppearanceEdit

The church was on a rectangular plan, with a semi-circular apse. The nave had four bays, with three pilasters on each side supporting the ceiling vault.

Inside, the main altarpiece was Our Lady with Angels by Francesco Cozza, a work which was highly regarded by art critics of the 19th century.

The convent was to the south-east. It had a rectangular cloister with a fountain in the middle, and arcades on the north-east and south-east sides. An entrance passage from a doorway just to the right of the church led to this cloister.

When the Trinitarians were in residence, the area between this cloister and the street was occupied by an oratory, which had its orientation parallel to the street. The plan of this was rectangular, with a tiny and shallow rectangular apse next to the entrance passage just mentioned. Surprisingly, it was about the same size as the church. 

It is not clear how such an odd situation developed. At the time of the Nolli map, 1748, the oratory was dedicated to the Assumption of Our Lady and was occupied by the Confraternita del Santissimo Sacramento di Santa Susanna.

External linksEdit

Nolli map (look for 375 church; 376 oratory)

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