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59. Watching Us from Above

By - Giulio D'Ercole

In Piazza Mignanelli, the square on the right side of the more famous Piazza di Spagna, there is the Column of the Immaculate Conception, a monument erected in the nineteenth-century. On top of the column, as looking at us from above there is the sculpture of the Blessed Virgin Mary, placed aptly in front of the offices of the Palazzo di Propaganda Fide (offices for promulgating the faith), now renamed the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

Commissioned by Ferdinand II, King of the Two Sicilies, Luigi Poletti was the architect who designed this Marian monument, one of the many monuments in Rome dedicated to Jesus' mother. Though, the actual statue was eventually sculpted by Giuseppe Obici.

The column itself was erected by the city fireman on December 18, 1857 and since 1953, every December 8, the day of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a ceremony is held here, often with the Pope in attendance, where the head of the Italian fire department presents a bouquet with the motto "Flammas domamus, donamus Corda " (English: "We stop fires, giving our hearts") while a fire truck is used to place a bouquet around the right arm of the Virgin Mary statue and another bouquet decorated with SPQR label is placed on the bottom of the statue.

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