Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Santa Maria Sopra Minerva

Today we went to what it so far my favorite church, Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. Sopra means "over" and Minerva is the Roman goddess of wisdom. The church gets it's name because it is physically built over the foundation of a temple previously dedicated to Minerva. Santa Maria, meaning the Blessed Mother, is at the beginning of the name of many churches, because so many churches are dedicated to Her. I am probably going to do multiple blog entries on this church because of the fact it's my favorite church and there is so much to talk about in the church. When you walk in, it's overwhelming how how big a beautiful everything looks. It took me a minute to grab my bearings and find out which way to go first. Walking down the middle of the nave and looking up, you see a beautifully painted royal blue and gold ceiling with stained glass and tall pillars lining the side. You face a beautiful alter with tall candles, a gold crucifix, and a sculpture on the side of St. Katherine of Siena representing her tomb which is at the foot of the alter. The alter is backgrounded by more beautiful stained glass. Off to the sides are numerous different sculptures, tombs, and chapels with beautiful paintings.

This church is considered the only gothic church in Rome. Gothic in the sense that it is somewhat gloomy and "echoey," but also architecturally gothic because of its steep roofs, pointed arches, and large windows in proportion to the walls. This style was normal throughout many parts of Western Europe from the 12th to 15th centuries. There are many skulls and crossbones throughout the entire church, and a lot of dark marble is used.

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