Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva

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Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva

Church of Santa Maria Sopra MinervaThis church owes its name to the temple dedicated to Minerva on which, according to tradition, it was built. Although it was probably first built in the 8th century, it did not become a Dominican church until the middle of the 13th century. It was the Dominicans who set about to reconstruct the church, a process that lasted over a century.

Two architect friars, Sisto and Ristoro, who were also responsible for Santa Maria Novella in Florence, were the builders of this church in Rome. The Spinster's Festival used to be held here on March 25th every year. The church would be decked out with tapestries, festooned with fruit and vegetables and special lights.
The papal court would be present and, at the end of the ceremonies, those spinsters who were "honest and with a good name" would receive a money grant. The amount depended on the funds held by the arch confraternity. When the papal properties were confiscated by the Italian state in 1870, this ceremony was abandoned.
There are a number of stone plaques affixed to the walls which record the water level reached during the various floods that, over the centuries, covered the Campus Martius, the lowest part of Rome. You'll find a number of Masterpieces inside the church. Do not miss seeing Michelangelo's Risen Christ, the Carafa Chapel in the right hand transept with Fra Lippo Lippi's frescoes, and the tomb of Fra Angelico, one of the great 15th century artists.
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