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Santa Maria del Priorato

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Santa Maria del Priorato

English name: Our Lady of the Priory
Dedication: Blessed Virgin
Denomination: Roman Catholic
Built: 18th century
Architect(s): Giovanni Battista Piranesi
Artists: Paolo Romano
Contact data
Address: Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta

Santa Maria del Priorato is a priory church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin.


The church belongs to the Priory of the Knights of Malta. It was designed by Giovanni Battista Piranesi at the end of the 18th century; construction started in 1765 on the site of an older church owned by the Priory. The first church was built in 939, when Alberic II gave his palace to St Odo of Cluny.

The older church belonged to an important Cluniac foundation, which is mentioned in 13th century texts as one of the most important abbeys in Rome. The most famous member of the monastic community was Hildebrand, better known as Pope St Gregory VII. As a young man, he studied and took his first monastic vows here. Exterior

The keyhole of the Priory, at 3 Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta, is famous - look through it, and you'll see that St Peter's is perfectly framed by an avenue of trees. The keyhole was deliberately placed here, as part of Piranesi's excellent design.

The façade is in the Neo-Classical style.

Adjacent to the church is the Complesso dell'Ordino dei Cavalieri di Malta (Compund of the Order of Knights of Malta).

Interior Edit

The high altar, made of stucco, has a statue group of The Glory of St Basil. The altar and statues were designed by Piranesi, who is buried inside the church.

The tomb of Monsignor Bartolomeo Carafa (died 1405) was made in the 15th century by Paolo Romano. Very few works by this Roman sculptor have been preserved. Two other tombs in the church are made from reused Roman sarcophagi.

Special notesEdit

The church is not open to the public. It is possible to apply for permission to enter, but it is not easy to get in.

The only part you can see is the keyhole, and it's possible to look into the complex from the atrium of Sant' Anselmo.

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