One of the most munificent 17th century cardinals, Cardinal Scipione Borghese, had this church built and dedicated to an image of the Virgin Mary that had been carried into battle. Through her intercession, the Hapsburg Emperor Ferdinand II had been victorious against the protestant city of Prague in 1620.
The plain, solemn façade contrasts greatly with the joyful baroque interior; there, in the left-hand transept, the famous Cornaro Chapel
is located, one of Bernini's most exquisite theatrical creations. With this masterpiece, the Ecstasy of St. Theresa, Bernini moved closer to his goal of achieving a fusion of the arts by creating a new type of visual and emotional synthesis.
The whole sculpture is conceived as a grandiose high relief suspended in air and bathed in light whose golden rays come from a hidden source above.
The brilliant whiteness of the marble and the intensity of the light exalt the spiritual value of the Saint's mystical experience, profoundly affecting the senses and the emotions.
The two lateral boxes, in which you can see statues of this work's patrons, only emphasize the theatrical concept of the composition.
If a work of art can lend itself to arousing the feelings of ardent exaltation and transcendence, the goal of baroque artists, then Bernini achieved this aim here in a masterly fashion: he managed to portray an expression of intensity on the Saint's face never before attempted.