Santa Maria del Soccorso al Monte di Pietà is the deconsecrated late 17th century Baroque chapel of the Palazzo del Monte di Pietà in the piazza of the same name. The postal number is 32. This is in the rione Regola.
It was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary under her aspect of Our Lady of Help, and had an alternative dedication to the Holy Trinity.
The palazzo was reconstructed from 1639 by the Arciconfraternita del Monte di Pietà, whose aims were to help poor people by means of cheap cash loans and by accepting items on pawn without usurious interest. This was the headquarters of an institution that was to be a great success in papal Rome, and which spawned many imitators elsewhere. Arguably it was one of the progenitors of the social doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church.
The design of the complex was by Francesco Peparelli and Giovanni Antonio de’Rossi. The former died on the job so the latter took over, and as a result the work as a whole was only finished in 1702. The chapel itself was completed in 1696, with Rossi apparently supervising the decoration.
The decoration of the narthex was added in 1702.
According to Armellini, up until 1870 the chapel was only open to the public on the feast-day of the Holy Trinity. This was an act of graciousness on the part of the governing body of the bank, as the chapel was entirely private and had no public pastoral function.
It was deconsecrated shortly after 1870, after the bank became Italian government property, but has been otherwise preserved in a very good state of repair.
The present owner is a banking firm called UniCredit.
There is no evidence of the chapel's existence from the outside, and the way in is not at all obvious. Through the door marked 32 (the western one), you pass through a short corridor into an arcaded loggia which gives onto a courtyard with a fountain. The entrance to the chapel is at the right hand end of the loggia as you face the fountain.
There used to be a public entrance round the corner in the Via dell'Arco del Monte, but this has not been used for decades. It is the first door on the left as you go round the corner from the piazza, and has no distinguishing features.
The interior is one of the richest small church interiors in Rome, and any student of the Roman Baroque needs to see it.
The plan of the chapel is transversely elliptical at first sight, but on examination looks more like two semi-circles separated by a narrow rectangular strip.
There is a square narthex before the actual chapel, having an oval vault. The relief of God the Father in the centre of this vault is by Michel Maille, and is surrounded by gilded stucco depicting garlands of flowers and angels.
The walls of the chapel itself are covered with polychrome marble, with marble statues representing Faith by Francesco Moderati, Hope by Agostino Cornacchini, Charity by Giuseppe Mazzuoli and Almsgiving by Bernardino Cametti. The relief representing Mercy over the altar is by Domenico Guidi of 1676, pre-dating the chapel. The left-hand altar relief is Tobias and the Angel by Pierre le Gros, and the right-hand one is Joseph in Egypt by Jean-BaptisteThéodon.
The main vault is of fantastically ornate gilded stucco with putti, containing five white stucco medallions and designed by Carlo Francesco Bizzacheri. It is considered one of his finest works. The large medallion at the apex is of the Holy Spirit as a dove, surrounded by an exquisitely detailed floral border. The four smaller ones depict incidents in the foundation of the Confraternity. The artists were Michel Maille, Lorenzo Ottoni and Simone Giorgini.
The chapel is open to the public once a year (usually the first Saturday in October), when important buildings owned by banks have a joint open day. This event is supervised by ABI, Associazione Bancaria Italiana, the Italian bankers' association.
Guided tours in Italian and English are provided for the chapel on this day.