The Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri Church in Rome was built by Michelangelo in the aula of the Tepidarium of the Baths of Diocletian in 1563. It is one of Rome’s biggest churches and is located at the Piazza della Repubblica, near the main railway station Roma Termini.
Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri Church Rome
Opening hours and admission
Opening hours: From 07.30 till 18.30 (Sundays and holidays from 07.30 till 19.30). Admission: Free.
In 1541 a Sicilian priest called Antonio Lo Duca had a vision inside the Santa Maria di Loreto Church. He saw seven martyrs, in a white light, rising up out of the Diocletian Baths. In the following years Lo Duca tried to convince a succession of Popes to construct a church dedicated to the angels and martyrs. In 1561 Pope Pius IV finally commissioned construction of this church.
The Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri Church was finally built in 1563 the former aula of the tepidarium of the Baths of Diocletian. The project was designed by Michelangelo, who made sure that the original grandeur of the monument was kept intact. The original design can be viewed in the sacristy of the church.
In the 17th century Luigi Vanvitelli modified some elements of the original design. (Most of these were eventually changed back.)
In occasion of the 1750 Jubilee several altarpieces were brought to the church from Saint Peter’s Basilica.
The facade of the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs is the former exedra of the calidarium of the Baths of Diocletian. The exceptionally long transept corresponds to the old frigidarium.
Michelangelo had the old floor of the Terme raised by two meters. As a result, the pink granite pillars in the church are 15 meters tall instead of the original 17 meters. The diameter of these pillars is 1,60 meters.
Domenichino‘s “Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian”.
The Millenium Organ was a gift of the inhabitants of Rome to the then Pope John Paul II, in occasion of the Jubilee in the year 2000.
The statue of Saint Bruno was made by the 18th century sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon. According to Pope Clement XIV it is so lifelike that the only reason it cannot speak is the vow of silence of the Carthusian Order which was founded by Saint Bruno of Cologne.
The meridian in the right transept was made in 1702 by Francesco Bianchini. It was commissioned by Pope Clement XI, who of course called it Linea Clementina. There were two reasons it was created. The first one was to better be able to calculate on which date Easter was to be held. The second one was to one up the one just laid in Bologna‘s Saint Petronius Cathedral.
Bronze entrance doors
The bronze doors of the church were designed by the contemporary artist Igor Mitoraj. The theme of the door on the right is the “Annunciation”, where the Archangel Gabriel tells Mary that she will give birth to the Son of God. The left door depicts the resurrection. Jesus is depicted as being one with the cross.
Angels are depicted on the lunette of the right door, martyrs on the one of the left door.
The doors weigh three tonnes and are 6.5 metres high and 3 metres wide. They were installed in 2005.
Address and public transport
Address: Piazza della Repubblica – Rome (tel. +39 06 4880812). Public transport: Metro line A (Repubblica); bus H, 40, 60, 64, 70.