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Rome Reports

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One of the oldest churches in Rome and the only architectural work of Piranesi restored


The Church of St. Mary on the Aventine is one of the oldest churches in Rome. It is located in the Magistral Villa and belongs to the Sovereign Order of Malta’s government.

According to the Order of Malta, it is also the only architectural work of Venetian engraver Giovanni Battista Piranesi, which he is also buried in.

After two and a half centuries since its construction, with very few interventions, the Order's Church has recently restored it. 

During the last two years, the restorers only used scalpels and adopted a method often used to repair painted surfaces to return the whole Church to its former glory. 

The artist Piranesi had been commissioned by the Order to work on the Church in 1764. He decided to combined and use various ancient military iconography to represent the Christian institution's mission.

VALERIE GUILLOT
Coordinator of the Magistral Villa visits
“The theme of death is represented through torches, skull and snakes to evoke the glorious past of ancient Rome and represent the Order of Malta's defense of Christianity.”

One particular symbol that highlights the mission of the Order of Malta is this baroque-style altar piece of St. Basil. For them, this saint embodies much of the institution's work.

VALERIE GUILLOT
Coordinator of the Magistral Villa visits
“He gave all his money to build hospices, hospitals, homes for children, for orphans. For the Order of Malta, he is a very important figure because he prefigures the Order's mission.”

The Order of Malta was founded during the 11th century. It was after the Knights of Malta had set up hospitals in Jerusalem to take care of pilgrims, regardless of their faith or race. It was later on recognized as a lay religious order under the pontificate of Pope Paschal II.

It is one of the oldest institutions in Western Christian civilization. Even to this very day, they continue to offer humanitarian assistance. 

MARIANNA BALFOUR
Diplomatic Public Affairs and Press
“Is an institution which has ties with over 100 states and it has diplomatic missions at the UN and the European Union.” “Currently there are 120 programs which are medical, social programs which are developed in all continents and all over the countries.”

Since the Church has now been restored work it is open again to specially reserved guided tours.