It is uncertain when this church was first built, but it is thought that it was one of many small parish churches founded in the later Dark Ages in the then built-up area of the city. The first documented mention is in the bull of Pope Urban III issued in 1186, giving a list of churches dependent on the basilica of San Lorenzo in Damaso.
It already had the name Monterone back then. According to Armellini writing in 1891, this name derived from a family of Siena which established a hospice for pilgrims here. A quoted source-text would be useful, because the date seems too early. (To be fair, Armellini expressed doubt -si crede.) There is a town called Monteroni d'Arbia near Siena.
Middle ages and laterEdit
There was a restoration in 1245, mentioned in a bull of Pope Innocent IV.
In 1597 the church was flooded out in an inundation by the river, and had to be restored again. Under Pope Innocent XII in 1682, it was entirely rebuilt at the expense of the priest-in-charge Filippo Silva.
In 1730, the church was granted to the Italian Discalced Mercedarians by Pope Benedict XIII. This reform movement of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary, nicknamed "Mercedarians" for their work in redeeming those enslaved by Muslim raiders from North Africa, originated in Spain at the start of the 17th century.
This was the second convent of the reform in Rome, the first and major one being that at Santa Maria in San Giovannino.
The Discalced Mercedarians were expelled from Rome in the French occupation at the end of the 18th century, and in fact became extinct in Italy.
In 1815, after the definitive restoration of papal government in Rome, the vacated complex was granted to the Redemptorists. In 1848 they undertook a restoration overseen by Pietro Camporese the Younger, part of which was the provision of a chapel dedicated to their founder, St Alphonsus Maria de' Liguori.
A major re-ordering of the parishes of the Centro Storico took place in 1824, under the bull Super Universam issued by Pope Leo XII. This suppressed the ancient parish attached to the church.
The Redemptorists remain in charge here, although their main convent is at Sant'Alfonso de'Liguori all'Esquilino. In 1860 a lay Confraternity was set up here by them to pray for souls in Purgatory, and this still meets in the church.
Layout and fabricEdit
The church has a nave of four bays with side aisles, and a rectangular apsidal sanctuary which is flanked by a pair of chapels. There are no external chapels off the aisles.
A campanile is not obvious.
The adjacent convent, on the right hand side, was built by Giuseppe Sardi for the Mercedarians in 1728. Part of it is over the right aisle of the church, which gives an odd juxtaposition to the frontage of the complex. This is accentuated by the contrasting colour schemes (the convent is in orange-red, with architectural details in white) and by the Rococo details on the convent frontage.
The church stands on a little triangular piazza which amounts to a wide place in the street.
The two-storey façade is very simple, rendered in pale yellow with white architectural details. Four Doric pilasters in the first storey support an entablature with shallow posts and a blank frieze. These pilasters are doubletted, the inner ones along their inner edges and the outer ones along their outer. Between each pair of pilasters is a vertical ellipitical window with a very thin frame.
The doorway has a molded doorcase and a floating segmental pediment over a very simple dedicatory inscription: Deiparae sacrum MDXXXXII ("Sacred to the Mother of God, 1542").
The second storey also has four pilasters, but these lack capitals. The entablature that they support lacks an architrave. Over the inner pair of pilasters only is a crowning triangular pediment, containing a Baroque tablet with curlicues and a winged putto's head. This reads: D[eo] O[ptimo] M[aximo], Deiparae Virgi[ni] Assumptae Anno Domini MDCLXXXII, Philippus Silva rector fecit.
At the ends of the parapets flanking the pediment are two flaming urn finials. They each stand on a plinth with a star and flanked by curlicues.
In between the pilasters in this storey are two windows, one above the other. The upper pair intrude into the crowning entablature. The right hand ones belong to the convent, while the top one of the two on the left is false.
The church is a little basilica, with a central nave and aisles. Two side altars are in the right hand aisle, and one in the left. The sanctuary is a rectangular apse, and is flanked by a pair of chapels on a square plan.
The nave has four bays, with the arcades supported by ancient columns with Ionic capitals from which the molded archivolts spring. The near and far arch springers are on Doric imposts, however.
The nave side walls and arch intradoses are painted to resemble polychrome marble revetting. Sitting on the arcade arches is an entablature which runs around the interior, on which sits a semi-circular barrel vault coffered in octagons with rosettes.
A small wooden gallery is over the entrance, corbelled out on wooden beams.
The apse of the sanctuary is narrower than the central nave, thus creating room for two corner piers. A triumphal arch fitted into the nave vault rests on the entablature above these, and is continued as a shallow barrel vault. This ends at a large lunette window, and has panels with grotesque decoration flanking one with the Dove of the Holy Spirit.
The altar aedicule has a pair of Corinthian columns made to look like a pinkish brecciated marble, supporting a triangular pediment with dentillations and modillions and containing a lily flower.
The altarpiece is an oil painting by the popular late 18th century artist Pompeo Batoni, depicting SS Peter Nolasco and Peter Pascual venerating an icon of the Madonna and Child. The ellipitical icon is earlier, and has been inserted into the picture. It looks 17th century.
The former saint was the founder of the Mercedarians, and the latter one of them who became a theologian and a bishop before being martyred by Muslims.
To the left is the Baroque monument to Cardinal Stefano Durazzo, 1667. A winged skeleton is shown sitting on a black marble sarcophagus and holding a cameo portrait of the cardinal. This is probably the best thing in the church.
On the counterfaçade to the right of the entrance is the re-set tomb slab of Giovanni da Bazzano, 1406 with an effigy in shallow relief. Next to it is a monument to Cosimo Simonetti da Cingoli 1652, with a tondo portrait.
The first altar on the right is dedicated to Christ the Nazarene. The statue of him is in a neo-Classical pedimented stone shrine with Ecce Homo on the entablature frieze.
The second altar on the right has a depiction of The Assumption of Mary by Giovanni Gagliardi.
Chapel of the Guardian AngelsEdit
The chapel at the far end of the right hand aisle is dedicated to the Guardian Angels. It has a high-quality Baroque aedicule in red-and-white and grey-green-and-white marbles, the former predominating. Ribbed Ionic columns with gilded capitals support a split segmental pediment into which is inserted a stucco bas-relief of The Child Jesus between Our Lady and St Anne.
The altarpiece is a 19th century work showing a guardian angel presenting a child to the Madonna and Christ-Child.
On the right hand side wall is a memorial to Anna Moroni 1647, with a half-length portrait sculpture.
There is a little saucer cupola, painted in blue fading to white with a central motif of lilies and a crown.
Chapel of St AlphonsusEdit
Pietro Camporese the Younger re-fitted the chapel at the end of the left hand aisle in 1848, in honour of St Alphonsus Maria de' Liguori. It is a sumptuous chamber, with a proper dome coffered in deep octagons and decorated in white and gold.
The paintings are described as executed by a Neapolitan artist called Vico. The altarpiece shows the saint in prayer, the left hand side wall has him with the early Redemptorist brethren and sisters, and the right hand side wall shows him levitating. The lunettes have angels and the dome pendentives display the four Evangelists.
Left hand aisleEdit
At the far end of the left hand aisle is a neo-Classical monument to Vincenzo Campanari, 1857 with a bust of him in a tondo. The crowning tympanum has a relief of Our Lady.
The altar in the left hand aisle is dedicated to Our Lady of Ransom, and has a painted plaster statue of the Madonna and Child. She is holding the White Scapular of the Mercedarians, otherwise known as the Scapular of Our Lady of Ransom.
The left hand side of the counterfaçade has two monuments. One is the upper part of a 15th century effigy, and the other is a triangular memorial to Cesare Pianetti, 1726.
The church was advertised in 2009 as being open 7:00 to 12:00 and 16:00 to 19:00. This was by the tourist website 060608, and the information may well be out of date.
Mass is celebrated on Sundays at 8:00, according to the Diocese in October 2019.
This seems to have been as a result of a change. In 2009, 060608 listed the church closed on Sundays, and on other days Mass being celebrated at 8:00 and 18:30, with the Monday morning Mass being private for the Confraternity only.