|Santa Maria sopra Minerva|
|English name:||Our Lady above Minerva|
|Dedication:||Blessed Virgin Mary|
|Titular church||Cormac Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor|
|Built:||3th century, present church c. 1280|
|Architect(s):||Fra Sisto and Fra Ristoro of Arezzo, Carlo Maderno|
|Address:||35 Via del Beato Angelico / 42 Piazza della Minerva|
Santa Maria sopra Minerva is a church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Pictures of the church at Wikimedia Commons. 
The first church, which possibly dates back as early as the first half of the 4th century, was built on the ruins of a Roman temple, probably dedicated to Minerva Chalcidia.
The present church dates to c. 1280, and became an important church for the Dominicans. The architects were probably Fra Sisto and Fra Ristoro of Arezzo, and the work was ordered by Pope Nicholas III.
In the 17th century, Carlo Maderno renovated the church.
It has been renovated several times, with the last major work done in the 19th century by Fra Girolamo Bianchedi.
The current titular priest of the church is H.E. Cormac Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, England. He was appointed on February 21, 2001.
The exterior is not very impressive, but you can see one unique thing about this church - the rose windows show that this is a Gothic church, the only Medieval church in this style in Rome. The façade was added in 1453, and is attributed to Meo del Caprina. It was paid for by the Orsini family.
What you will certainly notice is the curious statue of an elephant carrying a small Egyptian obelisk. The elephant was designed by Bernini but carved by one of his pupils. The obelisk, dating from the 6th century BC, was found in the church's cloister. The obelisk was decicated to Pharaoh Ofra, who is mentioned in the Bible (Jeremiah 44.30).
As mentioned, the church is in the Gothic style - notice that it has pointed arches rather than the rounded ones commonly found in Rome. The impression was partially destroyed by Carlo Maderno, who added Baroque elements to the 13th century nave.
The stained glass windows are mainly from the 19th century.
The following descriptions are ordered according ot the plan of the church; please refer to this to find out where the chapels and objects are.
Tomb of Francesco TornabuoniEdit
The tomb of Francesco Tornabuoni, died 1480, is by Mino da Fiesole.
Tomb of Diotisalvi NeroneEdit
Diotisalvi Nerone, died 1482, was a Florentine who was banished by Piero de'Medici after conspiring against his family in 1466.
Monument to Virginia Pucci RudolfiEdit
Virginia Pucci Rudolfi, died 1568, was a niece of the Florentine historian Guicciardini. The monument was made at the end of the 16th century by an unknown artist, possibly a Tuscan.
The fresco of Our Saviour is attributed to Pietro Perugino.
The 15th century statue of St Sebastian is by Tino da Camaino or M. Marini, while that of St John the Baptist, dated 1603, is by A. Bonvicino.
The tombs of A. Maffei and B. Maffei are from the early 16th century, and have been attributed to Luigi Capponi.
St Philip Neri is known to have prayed in this chapel several times in 1559.
Chapel of the AnnunciationEdit
The chapel was designed by Carlo Maderno.
The painting of the Annunciation, c. 1460, is by Antoniazzo Romano. One of the persons in the painting is the Dominican, Cardinal Juan de Torquemada, who died 1468, uncle of the infamous inquisitor. The cardinal is depicted in the painting presenting bags of money to three girls. The money was part of a fund which Torquemada set up to provide dowries for poor girls.
Cappella Lante della RovereEdit
The chapel has monuments to Maria Colonna-Lante, Giulio Lante della Rovere and their daughter Carlotta.
The chapel was designed by Gioacomo della Porta and Carlo Maderno c. 1600.
The first Blessed Sacrament Confraternity to the approved by the Holy See was established in this chapel, with St Ignatius of Loyola as one of its earliest members.
The monument to the parents of Pope Clement VIII, Salvestro Aldobrandini and Luisa Dati, is by Giacomo della Porta.
Tomb of Maria RaggiEdit
The tomb of Maria Raggi, who died in 1643, is by Bernini.
Chapel of St Raymond of PenafortEdit
The fresco of Judgment Day is by Melozzo da Forli.
The tomb of Giovanni Diego Cardinal de Coca, died 1477, is by Andrea Bregno. A Renaissance frame has been added to the monument. Chapel of St Hyacinth
The artist Andrea Bregno, 1421-1506, is interred here, in a tomb attributed to Luigi Capponi.
Chapel of St DominicEdit
The statue of the Madonna with three children - the Divine Child, St John the Baptist and St John the Evangelist - was made by Franco Siciliano in the 17th century. The pedestal, with a Nativity, is a later work by another artist.
Pope Benedict XIII (1724-1730) is buried here, in a tomb by Marchionni, made during Benedict XIII's pontificate.
The chapel was inaugurated in 1493, and is also known as the Chapel of St Thomas Aquinas.
Four frescoes by Filippino Lippi, painted 1488-1493, are found here. There are two Marian scenes, the Annunciation and the Assumption; over the altar is his St Thomas presenting Cardinal Carafa to the Blessed Virgin, and on the right-hand wall his Glory of St Thomas.
The relics of St Thomas Aquinas were kept in this chapel until 1511, when they were moved to Naples.
Michelangelo's Cristo della MinervaEdit
Michelangelo's Cristo della Minerva, a statue of The Risen Christ and carved between 1515–1521, stands to the left of the High Altar. It is not among his best works, possibly because he did not finish it. It was completed by his pupil, Raffaele da Montelupo, in 1521.
High altar and confessioEdit
St Catherine of Siena (died 1380), patron of artists and co-patron of Europe, is interred benerath the high altar. Her effigy by Isaia da Pisa, c. 1430, can be seen through the windows in the gallery. The tomb was restored in 1999-2000 for the Holy Year.
The Neo-Gothic high altar is from 1855.
St John the BaptistEdit
Tomb of Bishop Guillaume DurandEdit
Guilaumme Durand, Bishop of Mende, died in 1296. The tomb is by Giovanni di Cosma. It has a Gothic frame, where angels draw curtains to the side revealing his effigy. Above the sculpture is a mosaic of the Madonna and Child, St Dominic and St Privatus, with a smaller figure of Bishop Durand kneeling in prayer. The two saints are identified by labels in the mosaic (S PRIVATVS and S DOMINICVS) and by visual factors: for Privatus, a bishop's mitre; for Dominic, a Dominican habit, a tonsure, and a star beside his shoulder.
Cappela Frangipane e Maddaleni-CapiferroEdit
The next chapel from the tomb of Fra Angelico has a painting of St Mary Magdalen by Marcello Venusti.
On the left side is the 15th century Renaissance tomb of Giovanni Arberini. The sarcophagus is a reused Greek one, from the 4th or 5th century BC. The relief depicts Hercules fighting the Nemean lion.
Tomb of Fra AngelicoEdit
To the left of the sanctuary, you'll find the tomb of Blessed Fra Angelico (Fra Giovanni da Fiesole), also a patron of artists, who died here in 1455. It was made by Isaia da Pisa. Fra Angelico is best known for his paintings in the monastery of San Marco in Florence.
The chapel is also known as the Chapel of the Rosary. The stucco ceiling, 1573, is by Marcello Venusti.
This chapel holds the church's only work by Fra Angelico, Madonna and Child from c. 1449. Most of his works are found in Florence. Apse and choir
Besides the tombs of the two Medici popes, there is a memorial plaque to the humanist Pietro Bembo, died 1547, in the centre of the floor.
Beyond the sacristy is the room where St Catherine of Siena died in 1380. It was reconstructed here by Antonio Cardinal Barberini in 1637. The frescoes on the walls are by Antoniazzo Romano and his students.
Cloister and monasteryEdit
You can also see some rooms in the monastery, and the 16th century cloister. It has some historical interest, as it was here Galileo Galilei stood trial in 1633. There is a museum off the cloister.
On 29 April, the feast of St Catherine is celebrated with great solemnity. The ceremony starts with a gathering outside the church, where runners arrive from Siena with a burning torch of 'Faith and Love'.
There is an official website of Santa Maria sopra Minerva. At present time, it's in Italian only. Mass schedules (Orari) and events (Eventi) can be found under 'Notizie utili'.