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Depictions of Our Lady watch over Rome, now detailed in a series of books

2013-10-12

Walking across Rome, around every corner, you will likely run into these: the eyes of the Virgin Mary watching carefully over the Eternal City. The images are known as Madonnelle, or small Madonnas. They come in all shapes and sizes, and with their own unique story.   


Take this Madonna for example. It oversees a small plaza to the left of St. Peter's Square. During World War II, air raids pulverized the entire neighborhood. 

MARIA CRISTINA MARTINI 
Author, Madonnelle di Roma 
"There were no deaths, only injuries. And the only thing that was left standing, perfectly intact, was this Madonna. Since then, it's known as the Madonna of the Bombs.”  

This story can be found inside author Maria Cristina Martini's latest edition of Madonnelle di Roma. It's the fourth book in a volume bringing together images, history and anecdotes of these mini masterpieces. 

Martini came up with the idea years ago, and decided to compile images and information and each peace out of her love for sacred art. Each 112-page volume is cataloged by geographical area, and divided into districts. 

MARIA CRISTINA MARTINI 
Author, Madonnelle di Roma 
"The Madonnelle are broken down into three categories: Images near the entrance of buildings; images on building corners, which are always higher up; and there are those on the streets, and they usually have a canopy built that connects them to the ground.” 

The oldest of these art pieces date from the 14th Century, along the city center. But a lack of care has left many in deteriorating conditions. However, Martini hopes her books will help immortalize the Madonnelle. 

The volume is targeted to art lovers. But, it can only be found at the publisher's website, and certain bookstores throughout Rome. 

The series is a work in progress. It takes Martini about a year to publish each new book. And with many districts still to be explored, her work won't be finished any time soon. 


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