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Santa Maria ad Magos

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Santa Maria ad Magos is a deconsecrated 15th century chapel at the farmstead of Casale della Falcognana di Sotto. This is up a long driveway running south of the car park of a trattoria called Vecchio Torchio at the junction between the Via Ardeatina and the Via dei Casali di Porta Medaglia in the rather isolated suburb of Falcognana. This is in the Castel di Leva zone.

The dedication is to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

 A confusion Edit

Do not confuse this chapel with Cappella del Casale della Falcognana di Sopra, which is nearby as the crow flies. This is in a completely separate farmstead.

References to Casale della Falcognana online and in print are almost invariably to Sopra, but there seems to be serious confusion in the sources as to which is which.

History Edit

There are suggestions that one or other (or both) of the twin farmsteads is on the site of an ancient Roman villa, because ruins including carved stonework were reported hereabouts in the earlier 19th century by Antonio Nibby. Nothing seems to be visible now.

The chapel is dated to the 15th century, as is much of the fabric of the adjacent casale.

The estate of Falcognana, which was enormous and included both Casali as well as other farmsteads, is on record as passing from the monastery of Santa Maria Nova (Santa Francesca Romana) to that of San Sisto Vecchio in 1395. The latter quickly sold it on to private individuals and the estate was subdivided, initially into three and was owned by various noble Roman families.

The chapel's moment of glory came in 1742, when the miraculous icon of the Madonna di Divino Amore was taken to here from what is now the Santuario della Madonna del Divino Amore but was then another farmstead called the Castel di Leva. This did not have a chapel of its own, and the Chapter of San Giovanni in Laterano supervised the transfer. However the Confraternity of Santa Caterina della Rota, which owned the icon, sued to recover it and built a church to house it. The icon moved back to Castel di Leva in 1745.

The suburb of Falcognana, north of the Casali (and lacking its own church) was developed in the early Fifties.

At present, the old casale and its chapel are derelict. The site includes the appurtenances of what looks like a market garden, including a modern house, but these are just to the north of the casale.

Exterior Edit

The chapel occupies the right hand end of an irregularly put-together block of buildings which seems to include the stump of a mediaeval tower. The left hand side wall of the chapel is adjacent to a gateway with a tunnel vault and a chamber above, and this leads through to what was the casale courtyard. There is a long range running down the right hand side of this from behind the chapel, but the roof has fallen in and it is now entirely ruinous.

The main complex and the chapel still have their roofs, but the doorways and window apertures are mostly open to the elements.

The chapel is a simple rectangular building, with a double-pitched roof which must have been tiled once but is now covered with what looks like asphalt. Attached to the far right hand wall is a two-storey priest's house with a pitched and hipped roof.

Over the far end of the right hand wall is a bell-cote or campanile for a single bell, with an angled top rather than a proper pediment.

The fabric is in tufa blocks and salvaged bricks, visible because the grey rendering is falling off.

The façade has a single doorway flanked by a pair of oval (oeil de boeuf) windows. Above the doorway is a round window, and above that in turn is a vertical rectangular one. The right hand corner is occupied by an odd pilaster which does not reach the full height of the façade but ends in an impost about three-quarters of the way up.

Interior Edit

The interior is actually cross-vaulted, the vaulting springing from heavy engaged piers with thick imposts. The décor is in white.

The sanctuary is raised by one step, and has the remnants of the altar against the far wall. This consists of a brick podium with a large round-headed recess in front. In the far wall to the left is the recess for a tabernacle.

External links Edit

Info.roma web-page

Description and slide-show

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