| Basilica of
Sts. Cosmas & Damian - Paintings
In honoring Mary as the Mother of
God, we might look at one of the ancient Roman icons venerated in the Basilica of Sts.
Cosmas and Damian cared for by the Friars of the Third Order Regular since 1512.
BASILICA PAINTINGS & SACRED ART
|MADONNA DELLA SALUTE
Seraphin J. Conley, T.O.R.
The veneration of this lovely icon of the Madonna
dates back to the foundation of the Basilica by Pope Felix IV (526_530). A notable
promotion of devotion was given by Pope St. Gregory the Great (590-604) towards the end of
the 6th century.
The ancient image of the Madonna was located in the primitive Basilica between the
altar and the mosaic surrounded by a large number of devotional "ex-votos". The
icon which is now above the main altar in the Upper Church dates from the 13th century.
Actually, it is a new edition painted over the more ancient picture. Originally the
painting represented an image of Mary with the complete figure seated upon a throne. The
painting was later cut short to adapt it to the new altar.
On March 4, 1651, the head of the Virgin and that of the Child were adorned by the
Vatican Chapter with crowns of sculpted gold. These disappeared in the sacrilegious theft
of November 29, 1988.
The title "della salute" originally referred to salute or Marys
greeting to St. Gregory but in the course of time as the Basilica of Sts. Cosmas and
Damian, the physician-martyrs, was a shrine of healing, the term "salute" came
to mean "of Health". For those lucky enough to make a pilgrimage to Rome for the
Year of Jubilee, the icon of the Madonna della Salute is located in the Basilica of Sts.
Cosmas & Damian, on the Via dei Fori Imperiali, the avenue between the Coloseum and
the Victor Emmanuel Monument.
On a rectangular piece of black marble is written the following in Latin:
This image translated from the old building to a more noble setting spoke thus to
Blessed Gregory: "Gregory, why is it that you no longer come to salute me as you used
to do whenever you passed by here?"
Click on thumbnail to enlarge picture
on thumbnails to enlarge picture
THE CHAPEL OF THE CRUCIFIED
The work of art
above the altar is a precious fresco of the Kyrios (8th Century) which was transferred
from the lower church in 1637. The crucified Christ is vested in a Colobio, that is the
garment of the Byzantine emperor to signify that on the cross He has become the King of
Click on thumbnails to
THE CHAPEL OF THE MADONNA
This was decorated
in the years 1635-1638 by the Perugian painter Giovanni Baglione (1571-1644.) The canvas
above the altar shows St. John the Evangelist curing a paralytic. On the right wall there
is the Adoration of the Magi and on the left the Presentation in the Temple. The numerous
figures are painted in a style which recalls Carracci and Caravaggio.
CHAPEL OF ST. ANTHONY OF PADUA
This chapel is
dedicated to the popular St. Anthony of Padua. The picture above the altar was painted on
canvas around the beginning of the 1600s. It is the work of Giovanni Antonio Gaili, known
as "II Spadarino" (I 585-1653) and an imitator of Carevagoio's style. The
painting is very similar to a work by Carracci.
On the side walls
are painted fioures of St. Clare of Assisi and St. Louis of Toulouse, the Franciscan
bishop, and St. Louis King. These are works of Francesco Allegrini and date from about
Along the underside
of the arch there are frescoes of saints of the Franciscan Third Ordei-: St. Corrado
Confalonieri, St. Rocco and other figures. These frescoes are attributed to Francesco
The Trinity is
painted in the center of the vault and the adjacent pictures evangelists and doctors of
the church seem less detailed. These are also the work of Allegrini.
CHAPEL OF ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI
canvas which depicts St. Francis is from the school of Girolamo Muziano, a Brescian artist
(1528-1590) On the ceiling we see St. Francis in Glory (the Roman school). The side walls
are adorned with two large framed paintings: The Immaculate Conception (oil on canvas, c.
1854 with a gold plated frame): St. Louis the King, Co-patrons of the Third Order of St.
Francis together with St. Elizabeth of Hungary (oil on canvas, early 1800s).
CHAPEL OF ST. BARBARA
The first chapel to
the left of the entrance is dedicated to St. Barbara, patron of demolition and firework
experts. The painting of the saint is a work of the school of Cavalier d'Arpino and dates
from around 1650.
THE CHAPEL OF ST. ALEXANDER
It is dedicated to
the martyr St. Alexander. The canvas above the altar depicts the Crucified similar to the
iconography used by Rubens (model of 1640). It was executed in 1621 in imitation of the
style of the Flemish painter, Antonio Van Dyck (1599-1614) which was very popular in Italy
at that time. It is interesting for its expressive force.
THE CHAPEL OF ST. ROSE
This Chapel is
dedicated to St. Rose of Viterbo, a Franciscan tertiary, and to St. Rosalia of Palermo.
The fresco is by an unknown painter of the Roman school from around the middle of the
Madonna enthroned between Sts. Cosmas and Damian. A Fresco from the mid - 1200s. Removed
in 1960 and restored in the years 1960-1962, the fresco was returned to the Basilica on
May 26, 1992
|Sts. Cosmas and Damian
and the Madonna enthroned. Oil on canvas. Roman school of the 1700s.
|The saints Cosmas &
Damian with the Virgin "Queen of Martyrs". Oil on canvas, Roman school 1600s.
|Pope Felix IV presents
the church dedicated to Sts. Cosmas and Damian who appear in the heavenly clouds. Oil on
canvas. Tuscan School of the 1600s.