SANTI LUCIA E MARINA AS SEEN FROM THE ROMAN FORUM

Thomas Barker-Detwiler

Phoenix, United States

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Artist's Description

The church was initially dedicated to Saint Martina, martyred in 228 AD during the reign of Emperor Alexander Severus. In 625 Pope Honorius I commissioned construction of the church. Restored first in 1256 during the reign of Pope Alexander IV, it was a simple rectangular structure surrounded on three sides by other constructions until it was rebuilt by the painter and architect, Pietro da Cortona, in the seventeenth century.

In 1577 the Accademia di San Luca, the academy of painters, sculptors and architects in Rome, was founded and in 1588 it was given the church which was rededicated as S. Luca in S. Martina. The academy undertook minor refurbishments of the church and also there were projects for a new church prepared in drawings attributed to Ottaviano Mascherino (1536–1606). Gradually the academy began to acquire properties adjacent to the church.

In 1634, Pietro da Cortona was elected president of the academy. Almost at once he began restoration of the crypt and, as was common at this time in Rome, buried remains were found and were attributed to the martyred Saint Martina. No doubt it was hoped that this would precipitate an influx of funds to shelter the relics in a new church. In November 1634, Pope Urban VIII visited the church, and the papal nephew, Cardinal Francesco Barberini, who had been protector of the church since 1626, dedicated 6,000 scudi 3 although their full support for a new building seems to be in some doubt.4 Construction of the new edifice began in 1635 but was subject to interruptions such as Cortona’s extended visit to Florence from 1639–47 and Francesco Barberini’s flight from Pope Innocent X to Paris from 1645-48. At the time of Cortona’s death in 1669, some parts, such as the interior dome decoration, were still incomplete.
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  • kalaryder
  • Thomas Barker-Detwiler
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