Santa Maria della Vittoria and Santa Susanna

Moving on from San Bernardo, our wet Monday morning continued with a visit to the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria, which probably owes something of its current popularity to Angels and Demons, featuring as it does in dedicated tours, and having noticeably more visitors than some of the other nearby churches.

Most visitors will come to see Bernini’s Ecstasy of Saint Theresa (hard to photograph in the limited light, but I’ve included my attempt below) and the Cornaro chapel but that’s only one part of the stunning baroque church’s attractions.

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After a pretty odd and half-understood conversation in Italian, I’m still not sure whether what the little guidebook calls a “simulacrum” of Saint Victoria is actually the real Saint’s body or not. According to Wikipedia it is, and Simon Sebag Montefiore’s brilliant series Rome:The History of the Eternal City suggests that it could be more than just a waxwork.

Just across the street from Santa Maria della Vittoria sits Santa Susanna Alle Terme . This church is supposed to be built on the site of the house of Susanna, one of five members of a family related to the Emperor Diocletian (a family that included an early Pope), but who, like Victoria, was killed by the Emperor’s soldiers for their Christian faith.

Both churches were designed by Carlo Maderno, who also designed the façade of St Peter’s Basilica.

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We didn’t get to see much of this church as there was a wedding on and the priest shooed uninvited guests out, so it’s worth checking out Cobalt Violet’s post on her visit to both churches back in December last year.

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