San Filippo Neri a Via Giulia was a small 18th century confraternity and conventual church on the Via Giulia, just south of the Carceri Nuove. This is in the rione Regola. A picture of the façade of the church on Wikimedia Commons is here.
The dedication was to St Philip Neri.
History[edit | edit source]
The complex, including the church, was built in 1603 through the patronage of a devout glover from Florence named Rutilio Brando, who originally intended it to be named San Trofimo after St Trophimus of Arles. This saint is the patron of sufferers from gout, of whom Brando was one.
Through the influence of St Philip Neri, of whom he was a disciple, he founded the "Confraternity of the Holy Wounds of Jesus Christ" (Confraternita delle Piaghe di Gesù Cristo), which was provided with a small private oratory next to the church. This was responsible for a hospice for infirm priests and an institution for poor girls who could not afford a dowry, the latter being run by a small religious sisterhood.
The church was rebuilt in 1768 to a design by Giovanni Francesco Fiori, by which time it had been re-dedicated to St Philip and was nicknamed San Filippino or "Little St Philip".
It was seriously damaged in a flood of the Tiber in 1853, and afterwards the interior was lavishly restored under the patronage of Pope Pius IX. However, there were too many other churches in the area and so this one was allowed to fall into disrepair again in the early 20th century.
It was the last church to be a casualty of Mussolini's plans for new roads in the city centre. The area was cleared in 1940 for a new road, never built, between the Ponte Mazzini and the Corso Vittorio Emanule. The church was deconsecrated and partly demolished, and incorporated into an apartment block.
The surviving architectural space served as a market warehouse until the entire building became derelict sometime in the 1960's. Restoration as an apartment and office block only took place in 2000, when the façade was restored to its original state. The little oratory next door is long gone.
The frontal of one of the altars is apparently now doing duty in the Cappella di Urbano VIII of the Vatican Palace.
Exterior[edit | edit source]
Layout[edit | edit source]
The plan was Baroque, comprising an ellipse on the major axis superimposed on a rectangle. The latter gave the entrance bay and the wide apse. Two side altars occupied niches in the curved side walls.
The confraternity's private oratory was attached to the north side of the church (the left hand side wall), and was oriented perpendicularly to it with an entrance in the Vicolo del Malpasso. It had an overall rectangular plan, with a square nave and a shallow sanctuary entered through a triumphal arch. (The church itself has been described as an oratory, but this is incorrect.)
Façade[edit | edit source]
The façade of the church was always incorporated into the larger edifice of the complex run by the confraternity. It has four gigantic Ionic pilasters in shallow relief, the capitals being decorated with rosettes and swags. These support an entablature the frieze of which bears a dedicatory inscription, and above this is the triangular pediment containing a coat-of-arms.
The entrance has a raised segmental pediment, and a sunken vertical rectangular panel with chamfered corners on either side. Above these are two large rectangular windows with Latin cross mullions, and crowned with stucco reliefs of wreaths and ribbons which shelter under floating arcs. In between these windows is the glory of the façade, which is a large stucco relief of St Philip Neri in ecstasy in the presence of the Madonna and Child, this being inserted in a vertical elliptical tondo. The tondo is crowned by a scallop shell with swags of flowers, and is itself on a panel placed on the inner pair of pilasters, partly obscuring them. The entablature above, and the section of pediment above that, are brought forward so as to give a smooth vertical plane from the tondo upwards.
Interior[edit | edit source]
Because of the awkward site, the interior used to be at an acute angle to the street frontage. It was small, but sumptuously decorated in a late Baroque style.
The high altar had a 19th century painting of St Philip Neri by Cesare Dies. The left hand altar had a venerated mediaeval fresco of the Crucifixion taken from the Sotteranei under St Peter's, and the right hand altar was dedicated to St Trophimus and had an altarpiece depicting the saint of about 1720 by Filippo Zucchetti. This used to be venerated by sufferers of gout.
The remaining interior space is now part of the apartment building, and is private.