Basilica of Santa Maria in Montesanto (Church of the Artists)

Via del Babuino 198. (Open Map)


It owes its name to a little Church for the Virgin run by the Carmelites. The holy mount par excellence is Mount Carmel in Jerusalem. The new building, maybe contemporary to the twin church Santa Maria dei Miracoli, was built by the Cardinal Gerolamo Gastaldi. The first stone was laid on July 15, 1662, the building being completed in 1679. The original project was by architect Carlo Rainaldi. The project went to Gian Lorenzo Bernini and he made some variations, first of all the plan, that became oval to be adapted to the area. When Bernini died, Carlo Fontana completed the work. The Church was given to the Carmelites until 1825, when Pope Leo XII made it restore and entitled it a Minor Basilica. In 1953, it was given to Mons. Ennio Francia (1904-1995) and became the seat of the Mass for the Artists. At the time some restoration work took place, like the Way of the Cross and the altar. The Mass for the Artists was instituted on April 7, 1951, under the Pope Pius XII, the same who gave to artists the Basilica of Santa Maria in Montesanto, where they took office in 1953. At the moment, the rector of the basilica is Mons. Marco Frisina, a distinguished musician and conductor of the orchestra and the choir of the diocese of Rome. From the last Sunday of October to June 29, at noon, takes place the Mass for the Artists with music. The reader is usually an actor. At the end of the Mass the Prayer for artists is read. In the sacristy are exhibitions, many of which have a sacred theme. Concerts of sacred music take place in the Basilica.