The Santa Maria della Concezione Church (Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini) in the Via Veneto in Rome is mostly famous for its Capuchin Crypt. There used to be a side entrance that led directly to this crypt, but this has now become the highlight of a museum next to the church.
Santa Maria della Concezione Church Rome
Address, opening hours and admission
Address: Via Vittorio Veneto, 27 – Rome. Opening hours and admission: Fro 7.00 till 13.00 and from 15.00 till 18.00. Closed: December 25. Admission: Free.
History and description
The church was commissioned in 1626 by Pope Urban VIII, a member of the Barberini family. It was built by Antonio Casoni and consists of a nave with some side chapels.
The Pope’s brother, Antonio, was a Capuchin priest himself. In 1631 Antonio, then Cardinal, ordered the remains of numerous Capuchin friars to be exhumed and transported from the friary in the Via dei Lucchesi to the crypt. From then on the friars buried all their dead (as well as the bodies of poor Romans) in the crypt. The practice of burying the monks in the crypt lasted until 1870.
The crypt is divided into 5 chapels, which are decorated with the bones of the four thousand friars. The 5 chapels contain entire skeletons, however, and these are still dressed in their Franciscan attire.
The crypt contains the bones of some four thousand dead Capuchin monks, arranged to form decorations referring to themes to do with life, death and time passing, a theme which is made perfectly clear in an inscription on a plaque in one of the chapels, which states that “What you are now, we once were; what we are now, you shall be.” The Capuchin Crypt is now part of the Museum and Crypt of the Capuchins next to the church. Admission is 8 Euros.
Works of art
- One of the chapels contains the body of St. Felix of Cantalice, who was the first Capuchin Saint.
- A second chapel contains the tomb of the Blessed Crispin of Viterbo.
- First chapel: Guido Reni’s St. Michael the Archangel (c.1635) and Gherardo delle Notti’s Christ Mocked.
- 2nd Chapel: Mario Balassi’s Transfiguration and Lanfranco’s Nativity.
- 3rd Chapel: Domenichino’s Saint Francis Receiving Stigmata.
- 4th Chapel: Baccio Carpi’s Prayer in the Gethsemane.
- 5th Chapel: Sacchi’s Saint Anthony
- 5th Chapel left: Sacchi’s Apparition of the Virgin to Saint Bonaventura
- 4th Chapel left: Rusconi’s tomb monument for Alexander Sobieski
- 3rd Chapel left: Andrea Camassei’s Deposition and Girolamo Muziano’s Stigmatization of Saint Francis
- 2nd Chapel left: Alessandro Turchi’s Santa Felice da Catalice
- 1st Chapel left: Pietro da Cortona’s Saint Paul Restoring Vision.