Chiesa Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome

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    Home of Bernini's "Ecstasy of St. Teresa"

    by Jefie Updated Dec 23, 2014

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    Even though I wasn't planning on writing tips about specific churches in Rome, Santa Maria della Vittoria has to be one of the exceptions. Built at the beginning of the 17th century, this church is not very large in size, but its lavishly decorated Baroque-style interior makes it one of the most impressive in the entire city. It truly looks like no corner was left undecorated, and as your eyes take in the overall effect, you practically get the feeling that the church engulfs you.

    Many renowned artists contributed to its decoration, but perhaps no contribution is more famous than Bernini's "Ecstasy of St. Teresa". The sculpture, which became a pop culture icon when it was featured in Dan Brown's "Angels & Demons", is set in the Cornaro Chapel to the left of the altar. The work was commissioned by the Venetian Cardinal Federico Coronaro, who wished to be buried in the church. Bernini designed the whole sculptural group to make it look like the intimate scene is set in a theater. On the right, members of the Coronaro family are watching the scene from the balcony of a theater box. For the figure of St. Teresa in ecstasy, Bernini found his inspiration in the saint's autobiography. In "The Life of Teresa of Jesus", she describes her encounter with an angel who pierced her heart with a spear of gold. She relates her religious experience in the following words: "The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it." For this reason, Bernini depicted St. Teresa lying on a cloud with her eyes closed and her mouth half opened (to be honest, it looks like she experienced more pleasure than pain!), with an angel standing above her body with a rather smug look on his face.

    As a side note, the Fontana dell'Acqua Felice, or Fountain of Mosus, can be found across the street from Santa Maria della Vittoria. The fountain was commissioned by Pope Sixtus V to bring drinking water to this part of the city, but this was not done without some difficulties: the first architect hired by the pope to build an aqueduct and bring water over the Quirinal Hill miscalculated its incline, and the flow of water ended up not being strong enough to reach the fountain. The second architect was more successful, but then the statue of Moses featured at the center of the fountain met with its fair share of criticism because of its awkward bodily proportions and grotesque facial expression.

    Bernini's sculpture in the Coronaro Chapel Fontana dell'Acqua Felice Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria Bernini's
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    Bernini's "St. Theresa in Ecstasy"

    by brendareed Written Jun 2, 2014

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    “I saw in his hand a long spear of gold, and at the iron's point there seemed to be a little fire.
    He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart, and to pierce my very entrails;
    when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also,
    and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God.
    The pain was so great, that it made me moan;
    and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain,
    that I could not wish to be rid of it.”
    ~ from the autobiography of Teresa of Avila, 1515-1582

    The church of Santa Maria della Vittoria is best known for its Bernini sculpture group Ecstasy of St. Teresa, considered by many to be the prolific artist’s best work. Those who have read Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons novel will recognize this church and sculpture as part of the story.

    I have seen this sculpture referred to as either St. Teresa in ecstasy or in agony because clearly it is difficult to determine what is going on in her mind. Bernini designed the sculpture after Teresa’s own writings (quoted at the start of the tip) about a dream she had in which an angel pieces her heart with an arrow. She was both in pain and in rapture. The sculpture represents the angel having just pulled the arrow out of her. Theories give the sculpture a Freudian theme and say that it is really a sexual scene and, reading Teresa’s writings, it would seem that you could read it that way. However, these thoughts were not simply modern thoughts but were exclaimed by Bernini’s contemporaries.

    No matter how you view the sexuality of the sculpture, the skill of the master sculptor is clearly evident from the flowing robes of St. Teresa and the expressions on both the nun and the angel. The gold background gives the impression of light, which is a reality as there is a hidden window that provides natural light to the sculpture. There is also a lighting box that €1 will turn on some lights for you to view the sculpture when the natural lighting isn’t the best.

    This church and sculpture group was one of my must-see places on my recent trip to Rome. It should be high on any Bernini fans list and just lovers of great art as well. It is a little out of the way from many of the other churches, but not far from the train station. Highly recommend!

    Open from 0700-1200 and 1530-1900 daily.

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    Santa Maria della Vittoria

    by brendareed Written Jun 2, 2014

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    The church of Santa Maria della Vittoria is Baroque in style, built in the 1600s and renamed after a victorious battle in Bohemia; the battle victory is represented by the Turkish flags that hang in the church. The exterior designed by Giovanni Battista Soria have the heraldic symbols of the Borghese family (eagles and dragons) who paid for the building of the church.

    As one walks inside, the Baroque style is clearly visible in the single nave church from the white and gold angels, gilded capitals of the Corinthian pilasters, and the vaulted and frescoed ceiling set in two frames depicting The Virgin Mary Triumphing over Heresy and Fall of the Rebel Angels. Colored marble, rich sculptures, and lots of gold emphasize the richness of the church patrons.

    Clearly the most popular chapel in the church is the Cornaro Chapel located on the left of the high altar. In the center wall of this wide but short chapel is Bernini’s famous Ecstasy of St. Teresa. Bernini’s work is all over Rome and much of what he did was commissioned by the pope; however, when he created the Cornaro Chapel he was not the leading sculpture with the current pope and was able to accept rich commissions from others. In this instance, it was the Cornaro family that paid for the chapel and leading family members are seen in the sculptures on both the left and right walls of the chapel.

    The two family sculptures appear to be men sitting in theatre boxes discussing the scene of a show that they might be watching. The boxes are framed in colorful marble that contrasts nicely with the white marble of the male statues. It is thought that Bernini included himself in these likenesses of the Cornaro family – he would be the farthest man on the left sculpture and only his head is shown as he is basically hidden behind the man beside him. The ‘show’ they are watching is the central sculpture, the focus of the chapel and most peoples’ visit to Santa Maria della Vittoria.

    Open from 0700-1200 and 1530-1900 daily.

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    Bernini, Borghese and Brown

    by goodfish Updated May 15, 2013

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    Bernini fans were probably the only tourists to darken the door here until Dan Brown used it as a setting for the Third Altar (Fire) in "Angels and Demons". This one has an interesting little tie to the Galleria Borghese in that the bill for facade was paid by Cardinal Scipione Borghese in exchange for an interesting 2nd-century Roman relic unearthed when the foundations were being excavated. ‘Sleeping Hermaphrodite’, on an overstuffed Serta sculpted by the same Bernini, was one of the nearly 700 pieces later sold to Napoleon by his (reluctant) Borghese brother-in-law in 1807 and has been napping at the Louvre ever since. A similar sculpture dug up somewhere else in Rome (they’re forever digging up old stuff) snoozes in the Cardinal's gallery today.

    But back to ‘Our Lady of Victory’: she dates to the early 1600’s with interior re-dos after a fire in 1833, and is Baroque on steroids. Everything that can be is encrusted with fancy-schmancy gilt and frescos and carvings but it’s the second of Gian’s ‘ecstasy’ pieces that’s worth the stop-by. This one is St. Theresa and she’s all a-swoon over a heavenly skewering by a malicious-looking angel. And she’s got an audience: to the right and left of the sculpture are gentleman members of the Cornaro family (who paid for the piece and the chapel) in balcony seats for what weirdly comes off as a bit of sacrilegious voyeurism. Rumor has it that Bernini added his own half-hidden head to the group on the left.

    However you interpret it, this is another beautifully executed work by my favorite of Rome’s master artisans.

    Entrance is free: visiting info:
    http://www.060608.it/en/cultura-e-svago/luoghi-di-culto-di-interesse-storico-artistico/chiese-cattoliche/santa-maria-della-vittoria.html

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    Santa Maria della Vittoria- Ecstasy of St Teresa

    by Arizona_Girl Written May 19, 2011

    This was not on our plan to go, but since we were attending church across the street at Saint Susanna's we took a few minutes to enter this church before services were prepared. (Try to be respectful when visiting churches on Sunday, they request visitors to refrain for at least the 1/2 hour prior to services). I was so moved and taken back by the beauty of the Ecstasy of St. Teresa. I was not expecting it. I am grateful that it was one of the last things I was able to see in Rome. Don't ignore the lovely artwork around the church.

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    Santa Maria della Vittoria

    by mindcrime Updated Mar 21, 2011

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    Santa Maria della Vittoria is beautiful baroque church (actually a minor basilica) that was built in 1620 by C.Maderno. Although the church was at first dedicated to St Paul it redecidated later right after the battle of White Mountain where the Spanish-Imperial forces won a decisive victory (hence the name of the church) and ended the Bohemian period of the 30 Years’ War.

    The baroque façade was made by Giovanni B. Soria but it’s really worth to go inside and admire the details of beautiful frescoes. We took some pictures of the ceiling too and then we walked around for a while, it’s amazing how’s the church is litted by the candles’ light. and left for the end of our visit the masterpiece of the church which is located at the Cornaro chapel. It’s the altar of St Teresa of Avila. Bernini created a beautiful chapel showing St Teresa in a state of ecstatic rapture while an angel (love of God) hovers over her with an arrow and causing her both immense joy and pain. It’s amazing what Bernini did, he created like a small scale theatre with statues at both sides watching the scene!

    It’s open daily 8.30-12.00 and 15.00-18.00

    Santa Maria della Vittoria Santa Maria della Vittoria Santa Maria della Vittoria dome of Santa Maria della Vittoria altar of St Teresa of Avila
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    Santa Maria della Vittoria

    by MM212 Updated Apr 15, 2010

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    Although it may be just another Baroque church in Rome, Santa Maria della Vittoria della Vittoria contains an incredibly ornate interior. It also houses a notable Bernini sculpture of the Ecstasy of Saint Theresa, made famous by "Angels and Demons," the novel - and later also a movie - by Dan Brown. The church was designed by Carlo Maderno, nephew of the architect Domenico Fontana, and built over the course of the 17th century, but the interior was restored in the 19th century following a fire. Carlo Maderno also designed the neighbouring church of Santa Susanna, which has a similar Baroque façade.

    Ecstasy of S Theresa, by Bernini (Apr 2010) Another sculpture in the interior Dome & ceiling The Baroque fa��ade of S Maria della Vittoria Ceiling frescoes & sculptures - Apr 2010
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    Santa Maria della Vittoria

    by Cristian_Uluru Updated Aug 23, 2009

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    Santa Maria della Vittoria (Church of St.Mary of the Victory, in English) was begun in 1605 as a chapel dedicated to St.Paul for the Discalced Carmelites. The church was dedicated to the Virgin Mary after the discovering of a painting showed the Virgin in the castle of Pilsen, after the Catholic victory at the battle of White Mountain in 1620 in Prague.
    The church was rebuilt in 1620 by Scipione Borghese on a project of Carlo Maderno. Tha facade was completed in 1624 by the architect Giocanni Battista Soria.

    Interior. The church has a single wide nave under a low segmental vault and it has got a wonderful Baroque decorations on the walls. Along the sides there are chapels separated by colossal corinthian pilasters with gilded capitals. Contrasting marble revetments are enriched with white and gilded stucco angels and putti in full relief. The fresco in the vault shown The Virgin Mary Triumphing over Heresy and Fall of the Rebel Angels executed by Giovanni Domenico Cerrini in 1675. In the chapels you can see some works made by Domenichino.
    The masterpiece of the church is in the Cornaro Chapel, to the left of the altar: Ecstasy of St. Teresa by Scipione's favored sculptor, Bernini.

    Santa Maria della Vittoria Santa Maria della Vittoria Santa Maria della Vittoria Santa Maria della Vittoria: the vault Santa Maria della Vittoria: Dream of St.Joseph
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    Santa Maria della Vittoria: Estasi di Santa Teresa

    by Cristian_Uluru Written Aug 23, 2009

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    The Estasi di Santa Teresa (Ecstasy of Saint Theresa, in English) is a masterpiece of Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini for the Cornaro Chapel in the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria.
    The Venetian Cardinal Federico Cornaro choosen the church of the Discalced Carmelites for his burial chapel and decided to dedicate it to the first Carmelite saint, Saint Theresa, recently canonized in 1622.
    Saint Theresa is the main subject of the chapel. The statue is made in white marble and it it is surrounded by a polychromatic marble architectural framing. From this architecture some lights come against the statue. Along the two side walls of the chapel there is the shallow relief showing the Cornaro family inhabit in opera boxes. They are represented in
    The two focal sculptural figures derive from an episode described by Teresa of Avila in her autobiography: she described the love of God as piercing her heart like a burning arrow. Bernini literalizes this image by placing St. Theresa on a cloud while a Cupid figure holds a golden arrow and smiles down at her. St. Theresa's face reflects not the anticipation of ecstasy, but her current fulfillment. The statue was completed in 1652.

    Ecstasy of Saint Theresa Ecstasy of Saint Theresa Ecstasy of Saint Theresa Ecstasy of Saint Theresa: Cornaro family Ecstasy of Saint Theresa: Cornaro family
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    Ecstasy

    by TheWanderingCamel Updated Aug 14, 2008

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    In a city where sculptural masterpieces from every era are almost a dime a dozen, there's one that, for me, stands way above all others. You won't find it in one of the great museums, nor does it adorn one of the major basilicas. An insignificant church in a side street is its home, a family funerary chapel the reason for its existence. It's actually quite small, the centrepiece of a larger work commemorating the family of a controversial Venetian cardinal whose name would probably be forgotten but for the inspired choice of a disgraced sculptor to create a family memorial that is now considered one of the masterworks of the High Baroque.

    When Cardinal Cornaro commissioned Giovanni Bernini to create a funerary chapel for his family in the church of Santa Maria delli Vittoria, neither he, nor the sculptor were in favour with the Vatican. Maybe that's what gave Bernini the freedom to move beyond the sculptural conventions of the time and let his genius find its fullest expression in a sculpture that still has the power to shock with its depiction of the sublime ecstasy felt by the mystic St Teresa of Avila as she experienced the piercing rapture of divine love.

    The sculpture has been the subject of scholarly debate and controversy through the centuries. Standing before it, all that pales to insignificance in the contemplation of its beauty, the exquisite rendering of the folds of the saint's robes, the enigmatic tenderness of the angel's expression. Bernini's plan for the monument allowed for natural light from an unseen source to illuminate the scene. When the warm light of light afternoon illuminates the saint's face, catches the bronze sun rays behind her and tips the angel's spear with gold, his vision is fully realized.

    Breathtaking
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    Ecstasy of St. Theresa, Santa Maria della Vittori

    by Lacristina Updated Oct 22, 2005

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    Lot's of giggles and tittering about this work of art. And I must admit, the look on the saint's face does have more than a tinge of carnal pleasure to it.

    Who knows what the saint was thinking (or feeling) when she described this moment in her memoirs?

    But I have a pretty good idea what Bernini was thinking.

    In many ways it is a bizarre and spectacular scene he has designed. There are literally theater boxes on the side of the chapel, with viewers watching St. Theresa's "union" with Christ. Obviously, the Baroque era was a wonderful and interesting time to be religious! The angel on the left is about to pierce the saint's heart with an arrow. The cascaded, opulent folds of her robes intensify the look on her face.

    This scupture is incredible. You feel forced to ask: How is it possible that a human being carved this out of stone? How is it possible?

    If you're near the train station of Piazza della Republica - you're only about a five minute walk to the church (St. Mary of Victory) and this famous masterpiece and chapel - both designed by the genius Gian-Lorenzo Bernini. He used natural lighting in the "theater/chapel" best seen in the afternoon of a sunny day.

    Like most churches, open 7 a.m. to 1 p.m, then 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

    Bernini's St. Theresa in Ecstasy

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    S.Maria della Vittoria church

    by Julius_Caesar Written Apr 10, 2005

    S.Maria della Vittoria is an intimate Baroque church with a lavishly decorated candlelit interior. It contains one of Bernini’s most ambitious sculptural works, the Ecstasy of St. Teresa (1646), centrepiece of the Cornaro Chapel, built to resemble a miniature theatre. It even has an audience: sculptures of the chapel’s benefactor, Cardinal Federico Corsaro, and his ancestors sit in boxes, as if watching and discussing the scene played in front of them.

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    1646 - the ecstasy of teresa

    by belgianchocolate Updated Jul 7, 2004

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    A symbolic figure from unknown descent ,
    with a lance heated in flames ,
    came and shoved the lance deep into her
    bosom. She felt the intense love of God
    inflame inside of her.
    It was an intense pain and pleasure
    at the same time.

    Alleluja. - that was the subject of the statue in
    the 'Santa maria della Vittorio'. If it comes to
    sculptures still the talk of the town if you ask me.
    It is a bizar work of art.
    You see teresa - who was a Spanish lady
    (1515 - 1582) - Teresa di Avila wrote
    'conception of the divine love.' - hanging
    with a huge cape draped along her body
    with this angel with an arrow who is just
    about to stack her again.
    Simply , amazing , the expresion on their faces.

    Even more weird!
    Their are two tribunes on either side of the
    statue. It was quit common to have an image
    of the donator somewhere visible in the art work.
    But it has never been done like this.
    Their are two tribunes sculptured with
    'Federigo Cornaro and even some of his
    ancestors. Also that is very well done -
    it's a 3d composition.
    It is as if they are looking to a play in a theater.

    O yes , the divine light is symbolized by rays
    of gold in the back. You can help the divine
    light a bit by putting a coin it the machine
    so the statue get lightened.
    The entrance to see this chuch is free.

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    Santa Maria della Vittoria

    by IanMacPhail Written Oct 26, 2007

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    An absolute must!
    The statue by Bernini of St Therese in Ecstacy is just wonderful. Skill, beauty and total understanding of the human condition.

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