By the "Media Aetas - Sancti Victoris" Association
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The Church of Santa Maria della Rosa

The Church of Santa Maria della Rosa is the mother church of San Vittore del Lazio. It stands in one of the highest points of the country, close to Piazza Corte dei Santi and dominates the whole surrounding valley from above up to the territories of San Pietro Infine and Mignano Montelungo in the south, and up to the territory of Rocca D'Evandro in the west.

The current system derives from the countless renovations that have taken place over the centuries and is of an eighteenth-century layout. However, the church is undoubtedly of much earlier origin, with the bell tower placed in the center of the facade at the main entrance.

As can be seen from the information contained in the "Registrum Censuum et Confinium", during the Middle Ages the original name of the church was "Archipresbiterialis Ecclesia Sanctae Mariae" known as Santa Maria Maggiore, and only starting from 1561 will it assume the current name of Sanctae Mariae de la Pink. The change of name resulted from the incorporation of two altars in the church, the Maggiore one and Santa Maria della Rosa.

The church has a three-nave solution. The two lateral ones are separated from the central one by large arches that give harmony to the building.

In 1996, four stained glass windows were added by the young San Vittorio artist Carmen Spennato which portray the symbols of the evangelists. In 1998 the church was enriched with another artistic stained glass window, created by the Domus Dei of Rome, inspired by the theme of the Holy Spirit. Respectively in 1994, 1998 and 2000 the church was enriched with three valuable bronze portals made by the San Vittorese sculptor of Abruzzese origins Alberto Di Campli. The first, the central one, is entitled "Mystical Rose" and the panels that compose it retrace the most significant stages of Mary's life. The second, the lateral one, is dedicated to San Vittore Martire, patron saint of the town and reproduces some scenes from the martyrdom of the saint beheaded in the forest of Lodi in 303 following the death sentence by the Emperor Maximian. Finally, the third, which gives access to the adjacent rectory, is entitled "The Good Shepherd". These embellishments are added to others strongly desired by the then parish priest Don Antonio Colella who also wanted the restoration of the precious pipe organ kept inside, the pure gold finish of the pilasters of the aedicule with the icon of Mary placed at the top, in correspondence of the main altar, the coat of arms of the "Mystical Rose" and the capitals of the large columns that support the internal arches.

On the occasion of the 17th centenary of the Martyrdom of San Vittore (2003) two works of great importance were added. The seat of the celebrant, located next to the main altar, is a late 19th century baptismal font with an octagonal base, a highly symbolic geometric shape so dear to the "Media Aetas - Sancti Victoris" Association.

Also worthy of mention is the gigantic wooden crucifix made by the San Vittorese sculptor Vittorio Costantino and donated to the church in 1986.

The High Altar, in Baroque style, was donated by the San Vittoresi who emigrated to America in 1903 on the occasion of the 16th centenary of the martyrdom of San Vittore.

As we can see, therefore, inside Santa Maria della Rosa there are works of exquisite workmanship among which the Cosmatesque-inspired Pulpit stands out without a doubt at the end of the central nave, on the left side, near the presbytery.

As demonstrated by some photographic sources, until the middle of the last century the pulpit was mounted on the opposite side and even composed incorrectly, so much so that the artistic elements at its top looked in a different direction than the lions at the base of the columns that support it. The style to which the work in question refers is that of the Roman marble masters of the 12th and 13th centuries, which takes its name from Cosma di Lorenzo, a member of the important family of artists who during the Middle Ages achieved unparalleled results in the decoration technique of architectural elements through the use of glass tiles, in turn clearly of Byzantine inspiration. Certainly neither the name of the artist who made it nor the dating of the pulpit are known, although the name of "Cosmatesque" places it in the Middle Ages. The pulpit is supported by four column-bearing lions, each of which has a posture significantly different from the other, which in turn each support a column on which the upper part formed by trefoil arches rests. The columns and the capitals that surmount them have different characteristics, both in the color of the marbles and in the shape, and this has advanced some hypotheses, all plausible. The first is that the pulpit may have been made by more than one artist at different times. The second is that the materials can come from different places and reused after a previous purpose. A third, finally, is that for some reason the work may be unfinished and that the artist was unable to harmonize it in its various components.

Looking upwards you can see the beautiful mosaics that in one of the facades represent two peacocks facing each other.

Climbing further, the observer cannot help but dwell on the decoration that dominates the balustrade that surrounds the walkable part of the pulpit. A male nude figure holding a book, probably a sacred text, in turn clawed by a bird of prey.

At the foot of the main figure is another bird, which seems to be an owl, a snake coiled around the man's leg and a salamander in the act of biting the reptile.

It is a sculptural group full of religious symbolism and which should be further explored. The "naked Aeon", with which the male figure is identified, being an intermediary between the earthly world and God, supports "the Word" under the severe presence of the eagle, a symbol of strength and power. The snake clinging to the leg of the male figure certainly refers to the threat of sin and the salamander, as a salvific element that intervenes by attacking it, recalls the theme of salvation through divine intervention. It is worth remembering that the salamander, in mythology and popular sagas, is an animal that is credited with the ability not to succumb to fire and to cross flames while remaining unharmed. Finally, the bird at the base of the nude, if it is an owl, is equally significant. Unlike modern popular culture, in Greek mythology, from which Christian culture draws so much, it is a sacred animal to the goddess Athena, a symbol of wisdom.

Another very interesting work is the funeral monument dedicated to Bishop Guglielmo Capoferro located at the entrance to the church. Dedicated to a prominent member of the powerful San Vittorese Capoferro family, it recalls the figure of this character who died Bishop of Chieti in 1352. The deceased is represented dressed in the sacred vestments of the bishop and on the head wall there is the family crest depicting the head of a warrior protected by iron armor, an "iron chief" in fact. A much later commemorative plaque says:

 

GULLIELMO III CAPEFERREO

HERE EX TOURONENSIS ECCLESAE

IN THESAVRARIO GALLIA

EPISCOPVS TEATINUS IN BENEDICTO

XII YEAR MCCCXL CREATVS, ET

YEAR MCCCLII MORTVVS EST

SANCTIVICTORENSES CONCIVI SVO

POSVERE

YEAR MDCCXXXVI

 

Trad.

 

GUGLIELMO III CAPOFERRO

ALREADY TREASURER OF THE CHURCH OF GALLIA

IN THE CITY OF TOUR

APPOINTED BISHOP OF CHIETI

FROM BENEDICT XII IN THE YEAR 1340

AND DIED IN THE YEAR 1352

THE SANVITTORESI PLACED IN HIS MEMORY

IN THE YEAR 1736

 

Also worthy of mention are the two eighteenth-century confessionals, which miraculously escaped the Allied bombings of the Second World War, a holy water stoup from the late 1600s still in use and two works by the sculptor Alfiero Nena. The bas-relief "The Sower" set in the ambo placed on the presbytery, inaugurated in 2006 and inspired by the parable of the Synoptic Gospels, and a crucifix that in 2007 was placed on the High Altar. The importance of these works should be emphasized since the fame of Alfiero Nena is of absolute caliber. His "Cristo Lux Mundi", starting from 25 May 1990, dominates next to the central altar in the Roman basilica of S. Maria del Popolo. After two hundred years, a new work was being admitted into the basilica and the fact that the sculptor himself contributed to the artistic enrichment of the Church of Santa Maria della Rosa can only be a reason for pride.

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