|Santa Maria in Via|
|English name:||Our Lady in the Street|
|Architect(s):||da Volterra Lombardi|
|Address:|| Via del Mortaro 24 (Largo Chigi)
|Phone:||06 67 93 841|
|Fax:||06 67 96 760|
Santa Maria in Via is an old parish and titular church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary under a special title of Our Lady of the Well (Madonna del Pozzo). It has its postal address as Via del Mortaro 24, but the main entrance is on the Largo Chigi at the west end of the Via del Tritone in the rione Trevi. Pictures of the church at Wikimedia Commons.  There is an English Wikipedia page. 
It is very easy to confuse this church with the nearby one of Santa Maria in Via Lata, both nowadays and in historical documents.
An older chapel or church is mentioned on the site in the 10th century, and in 1165 it is recorded under the name Santa Maria in Via. This is a strange name, considering that most churches are fairly close to a street, and there are three threories. Firstly, because of the church's proximity to the Via Flaminia, which was the main road in the area and is now the Corso. The problem with this is that Santa Maria in Via Lata is on this street, and is the older church. Secondly, that the word Via is a corruption of the Latin vinea, or vine. Thirdly, that the church was actually first built in the middle of a street (in Via literally means "in the street") in the same way that Santa Maria dell'Archetto later was. Nobody really knows the origin.
In the 13th century, Cardinal Pietro Capocci had a house here, and there was a well in his stable yard. On the night of 26 September 1256, it overflowed. The horses were frightened, and when the domestics rushed out they found an icon of the Blessed Virgin, painted on a stone tablet, floating on the water. Pope Alexander IV declared the event to have been a miracle, and ordered the construction of a chapel dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. The new chapel was over the well, and was an annexe of the older church.
The present church was built 1491-1513, on orders from Pope Innocent VIII. In 1494, meanwhile, he made it a parochial church. In 1513 it was granted to the Servite Order by Pope Leo X (1513-1521), and they still serve the church and parish.
It had been established as a cardinalitial titular church in 1551 by Pope Julius III. The first titular priest was Cardinal Giulio della Cornea O.S.Hier. (1551-1555). Among other titulars we find, as mentioned above, St Robert Bellarmine S.J. (1599-1620), a Jesuit who was one of the foremost champions of the Catholic cause during the Counter-Reformation. The current titular priest of the church is H.E. Cardinal Raúl Eduardo Vela Chiriboga, archbishop emeritus of Quito, Ecuador; he was appointed on November 20, 2010.
A major restoration was completed in 2006.
Plan and elevationEdit
The plan of the church is straightforward, there being a nave with two structural aisles, a short presbyterium and a segmental apse. The aisles are divided by blocking walls to create four chapels on either side, the bottom right hand one (where the well is) being twice as deep as the others and hence protruding beyond the external wall on that side. On the left hand side of the presbyterium is a room containing a crib, and on the right hand side is the sacristy.
The roofs are pitched and tiled, with the one over the presbyterium slightly lower than that on the nave. There is no campanile, but a bellcote with spaces for two bells is placed over the far right hand corner of the sacristy. Unusually, this is at an acute angle to the major axis of the church.
The travertine limestone façade was designed by Giacomo della Porta and completed by Carlo Rainaldi, who made some alterations to the upper of the two storeys. A quick glance round the corner will reveal that this second storey is false, being much higher than the nave roof behind. The first storey has four Corinthian pilasters in shallow relief, doubled in profile, and these support a deep entablature with a projecting dentillate corniceand a dedicatory inscription on the frieze. The inscription reads, in Latin, Deo in hon[ore] Mariae virginis matris Dei, d[e]d[icat]a MCCLVI ("Dedicated to God in honour of the virgin mother, AD 1256"). In between the pilaster capitals are panels richly decorated with swags, ribbons and heads of putti. The plaque in the middle of this records a restoration of 1900.
Because the aisles were used for chapels, there is only one entrance door. It is flanked by Corinthian columns in the round supporting a raised triangular pediment containing a bust in a wreath. To either side is a rectangular window with a raised segmental pediment, and below this a blank tablet with a Baroque raised border.
The second storey has a pair of pilasters in the same style as those below, and these support an entablature and compound pediment formed by inserting a segmental one into a triangular one. In the centre is a large rectangular window flanked by Corinthian columns supporting a pediment with an ogee curve. This window has a balustrade, and the pediment contains a scallop shell. A pair of gigantic incurved double volutes frames this storey, and on the corners at either end is a pair of flaming torch finials.
Layout and fabricEdit
The nave has a single central aisle with four chapels on each side, a barrel-vaulted ceiling with windows inserted and much polychrome marble decoration mostly of the 19th century. The ceiling has an 18th century fresco by Gian Domenico Pestrini. The floor was relaid in 1933.
The spectacular polychrome marble high altar is from 1758. Over the high altar, in the apse, is a statue of Our Lady of Sorrows by Ferdinando Raggi of 1763. The Servites have a special devotion to her, and were instrumental in spreading the devotion of the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady.
In the first chapel on the right, the Cappella della Madonna del Pozzo constructed by Monsignor Canobio, is the holy well. The chapel is built around the well, which was there first, and the miraculous icon is kept here. It is painted on a tile fragment, which is why the way it floated on the water in the well was regarded as miraculous. In 1646 it was crowned by Papal decree, and framed in polychrome marble.
The chapel is also decorated with paintings of The Annunciation, The Adoration of the Magi and The Nativity by Cavalier d'Arpino who was patronized by by Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini. The painting to the right showing Cardinal Capocci receiving the icon is of the school of Carravagio about 1606.
The holy well is still taken very seriously by believers, and is one of the few in the Centro Storico (see San Lorenzo in Fonte for another one). It used to be the case until recently that a Servite friar would always be present in the church during opening hours, and would serve you fresh water on request from the well. Unfortunately, the friars nowadays may have other calls on their time. If one is not available, there are prayer cards of the miraculous icon to be had.
If you are not a Christian believer, be careful about drinking from the well just for the "experience". The water comes from the ground not an aqueduct, and has filtered through several thousand years of history. The water is to be drunk with faith, and may not be healthy otherwise.
The second chapel on the right is dedicated to St Philip Benizi, one of the founders of the Servite Order. The altarpiece depicting him is by Tommaso Luini. In the ceiling is a fresco by Niccolò Circignani, Il Pomarancio. The third chapel on the right is dedicated to the Annunciation to Our Lady. The wall frescoes are by the Cavalier d'Arpino again, and the ones on the vault are by the Zucchi brothers from Florence. They date from 1596.
The fourth chapel on the right was designed by Carlo Lombardi, and is dedicated to the Most Holy Trinity. The frescoes by Cristoforo Casolani depict The Most Holy Trinity (in the centre), SS John the Baptist, Francis of Assisi, Mary Magdalene and another saint. Francesco Lombardi's fresco depicts The Apparition to Abraham of Three Angels. Cherubino Alberti's fresco depicts The Ark of the Covenant.
The sacristy contains a very good painted wooden statue of Our Lady of Sorrows by Raimondo Gaggi of 1725. In a room over the sacristy is kept a chair used by St Robert Bellarmine when he preached here as the church's cardinal.
In the first chapel on the left, opposite the well and dedicated to St Andrew the Apostle, there is a medieval painting of the Blessed Virgin, known as Our Lady of the Fire. The chapel is also known as the Cappella del Bufalo Cancellieri.
The third chapel on the left is dedicated to the Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order, and the fourth to St Pellegrino Laziosi who is a patron of cancer sufferers.
The crib in the room in the top left hand corner is from Naples, and is of the 18th century.
Access and liturgyEdit
The church is normally open:
Weekdays 07.15 to 12:15, 16:00 to 20.00; Saturdays it closes an hour later in the evening.
Sundays 8:30 to 13:00, 16:00 to 22:00.
The street that it is in, the Via di Santa Maria in Via, is parallel to the Corso south of the Largo Chigi, and is a short walk from the San Silvestro bus station.
This is an active parish church, and has a full schedule of Masses:
Weekdays 7:30, 11:00 (not July or August), 19:00; there is an extra Mass on Saturday at 20:00.
The Saturday 7:30 Mass is in the Well Chapel in honour of Our Lady.
Sunday: 10:00, 11:00, 12:00, 17:00 (not July or August), 19:00, 20:00, 21:00;
The 10:00 Mass is the Parish Mass, and the 17:00 one is for Spanish speakers.
The parish support a good choir, the Cappella Musicale di Santa Maria in Via, and they give their repertoire at the 12:00 Mass.
Other liturgical notesEdit
The feast of the Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order is celebrated as a solemnity on 17 February, and the feast of St Pellegrino Laziosi on 1 May. Rosary is recited daily at 18:30.Visitors are welcome to all Masses and to the Rosary, but are requested not to walk around the church during them.