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Santa Maria del Carmine in Trastevere

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Santa Maria del Carmine in Trastevere was an oratory that stood opposite San Crisogono before the construction of the Viale di Trastevere. It should not be confused with Santa Maria della Clemenza a Trastevere, another oratory which was also given the same name.

The dedication was to Our Lady of Mount Carmel. (There has been another confusion in the sources between this oratory and the church of Sant'Egidio in Trastevere, which has had the same dedication.)

History

Origins of ConfraternityEdit

The remote origins of the oratory lie in the donation of the basilica of San Crisogono to the Calced Carmelites of the Congregation of Mantua at the suggestion of Cardinal Girolamo Basso della Rovere in1489. The friars very quickly encouraged the devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and the Confraternita di Santa Maria Mater Dei del Carmine was founded. This extended its interests to the cult of the Blessed Sacrament, and as a result in 1543 was re-founded as the Confraternita del Santissimo Corpo e della Gloriosissima Vergine Maria Dei del Carmine.

Initially the confraternity used a chapel at the end of the right hand aisle of the basilica, but they moved to a little purpose-built oratory next to the campanile in 1588.

OratoryEdit

The confraternity flourished, and out-grew its premises. An opportunity came to remedy this when the basilica had a major Baroque restoration in 1620, funded by Cardinal Scipione Borghese. The cardinal agreed to pay for a new, larger oratory which was built on the opposite side of the piazza from the basilica, beginning in 1627. Leftover materials and funds from the finishing of the basilica's façade were made available.

The confraternity was one of the most important pious societies for laypeople in the city in the 18th century, and many of the nobility belonged to it. A restoration and extension of the oratory took place in 1756 as a result.

In 1880, the scheme to provide a new access to the city centre from Trastevere and the south-west suburbs resulted in the present Via Arenula and the Viale di Trastevere. The oratory was sequestered and demolished as a result.

Survival of confraternityEdit

The confraternity initially moved to Sant'Egidio, which conveniently had the alternative dedication to Our Lady of Mount Carmel. They then found a temporary home in a chapel at San Giovanni dei Genovesi, before finally setting at Sant'Agata in Trastevere in 1911. This church is now a flourishing centre of Marian piety.

LocationEdit

The lost Piazza di San Crisogono had only four narrow side-streets leading into it before 1880. The left hand corner of the façade of the basilica abutted onto the wall of the garden of the convent, which formed the south side of the piazza. At the other end of this, the south-east corner of the piazza, was an exit giving onto two streets, one leading south and one east. The basilica was on this corner, with the façade facing the basilica and the right hand side wall running along the latter street.

To locate the site of the oratory now, take a line from the left hand corner of the basilica across the main road. On the other side, you will see a modern building with balconies on a street corner. The line intersects the former oratory façade between the façade entrance and its right hand corner, and the line of the façade was about where cars can park on the kerbside there.

AppearanceEdit

Owing to the wealth of the confraternity, this oratory was the size of a church and was very well decorated. The plan was a simple rectangle, with a tiny rectangular apse having a triumphal arch.

It had a two-storey Baroque façade, crowned by a triangular pediment. An 18th century engraving by Vasi has an oblique view of it.

External linksEdit

"Romeartlover" web-page showing Vasi engraving

Historical article in Italian

Nolli map (look for 1144)

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