Santa Maria in Aracoeli

I hadn’t been to Santa Maria in Aracoeli (St. Mary of the Altar of Heaven) in a long time, but recently found myself next door, admiring the Capitoline wolf  (aka the She-wolf of Rome). Thankfully my wife Laura recalled the easy, back-door entrance to the church from the Capitoline, versus huffing and puffing down the Capitoline stairs and then up again using the very  intimidating stairs leading to the church.

The little back door entrance …


…and, the lovely painting of the Madonna and child in the arch.

Santa Maria in Aracoeli, dating from the 12th Century, was a very important church in the Middle Ages.  Today, it is a bit of a hodgepodge inside.  It feels like each generation had to add something, including the many crystal chandeliers, framing the ornate altar.

Santa Maria in Aracoeli interior


The ornate altar, with its little Byzantine Madonna (close up at the top of this post)


Lots of visual stuff going on in this church

If you look around, there are other things of beauty here, all competing with one another.

Lovely carved wooden ceiling


Stained glass dove window


Statue of a Pope … there are a few here!


A sturdily-built angel peers down …

This church also holds some wonderful art, hidden away a bit in its side chapels, the most beautiful being the Pinturicchio (the “little painter”) fresco of Saint Bernardino of Siena.

Central fresco by Pinturicchio


Detail of the fresco …


Closeup of one of the angels …

And then there are the glorious Cosmatesque floors, which I’ll cover in the next post (yes, I am addicted to Roman floors).