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76. St. Mary of Angels and Martyrs

Updated: Mar 22, 2020

By - Giulio D'Ercole

St. Mary of Angels and Martyrs is a beautiful church in Piazza della Repubblica, also called Piazza Esedra, in Rome just adjacent Termini railroad and Metro station.

The name of the church is due to Pope Pius IV. The basilica is dedicated to the Christian martyrs, known and unknown. By a brief dated 27 July 1561, Pius IV's wished to dedicate the church to a Sicilian monk called Antonio del Duca. It seems in fact that in 1541, the monk had a vision of the Virgin Mary, Angels and Martyrs in the ruins of the ancient Roman Baths, the thermae of Diocletian, which dominated the Quirinal Hill . The link between the thermae and the vision is in the fact that there are accounts of Christian martyrs enslaved to be laborers set to constructing the Baths.

The story has been symbolically told by Polish-born sculptor Igor Mitoraj, who, in 2006, created new bronze doors as well as a statue of John the Baptist.

The photo below shows the body of one of the martyrs, while emerging from the bronze of the great portal.

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