San Pietro in Montorio

San Pietro in Montorio is a church in Rome, Italy, which includes in its courtyard the Tempietto, a small commemorative martyrium (tomb) built by Donato Bramante.

San Pietro in Montorio
San Pietro in Montorio is located in Rome
San Pietro in Montorio
Shown within Rome
San Pietro in Montorio is located in Italy
San Pietro in Montorio
San Pietro in Montorio (Italy)
Basic information
LocationRome, Italy
Geographic coordinates41°53′19″N 12°28′00″E / 41.8886°N 12.4666°ECoordinates: 41°53′19″N 12°28′00″E / 41.8886°N 12.4666°E
AffiliationRoman Catholic
Year consecrated1500
LeadershipCardinal James Francis Stafford
PatronFerdinand II of Aragon Isabella I of Castile
WebsiteOfficial site
Architectural description
Architect(s)Donato Bramante
Architectural typeChurch
The Tempietto within a narrow courtyard.
Francesco Baratta
Francesco Baratta. Saint Francis in Ecstasy, c. 1640. Raimondi Chapel, San Pietro in Montorio.


The Church of San Pietro in Montorio was built on the site of an earlier 9th-century church dedicated to Saint Peter on Rome's Janiculum hill. It serves as a shrine, marking the supposed site of St. Peter's crucifixion.[1]

In the 15th century, the ruins were given to the Amadist friars, a reform branch of the Franciscans, founded by the Blessed Amadeus of Portugal, who served as confessor to Pope Sixtus IV from 1472. Commissioned by Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain.

It is a titular church, whose current title holder, since 1 March 2008, is Cardinal James Francis Stafford.


The church is decorated with artworks by prominent 16th- and 17th-century masters.

The first chapel on the right contains Sebastiano del Piombo's Flagellation and Transfiguration (1516–1524). Michelangelo, who had befriended Sebastiano in Rome, supplied figure drawings that were incorporated into the Flagellation.

The second chapel has a fresco by Niccolò Circignani (1654), some Renaissance frescoes from the school of Pinturicchio, and an allegorical sibyl and virtue attributed to Baldassarre Peruzzi.

The fourth chapel has a ceiling fresco by Giorgio Vasari. Although there is no grave marker, tradition has it that Beatrice Cenci—executed in 1599 for the murder of her abusive father and made famous by Percy Bysshe Shelley, among others—is buried either in this chapel or below the high altar.

The ceiling of the fifth chapel contains another fresco, the Conversion of St. Paul, by Vasari. The altarpiece is attributed to Giulio Mazzoni, while the funerary monument of Pope Julius III (Giovanni Maria Del Monte) and Roberto Nobili are by Bartolomeo Ammannati. Also buried in the chapel is Julius III's scandalous 'nephew', and probable lover Cardinal Innocenzo Ciocchi Del Monte.

San Pietro in Montorio2
Facade of San Pietro in Montorio, with entrance to the cloister at right.

Until 1797, Raphael's final masterpiece, the Transfiguration graced the high altar; it is now in the Vatican pinacoteca. The altar currently displays a copy by Cammuccini of Guido Reni's Crucifixion of St. Peter (also now in Vatican museum).

The last chapel on the left contains a Baptism of Christ, attributed to Daniele da Volterra, and stucco-work and ceiling frescoes by Giulio Mazzoni.

A pupil of Antoniazzo Romano frescoed the third chapel with the Saint Anne, Virgin, and Child.

Dirck van Baburen, a central figure of the Dutch Caravaggisti, painted the Entombment for the Pietà Chapel, which is indebted to Caravaggio's example. Baburen worked with another Dutch artist, David de Haen in this chapel.[2] The two other paintings, The Mocking of Christ and The Agony in the Garden are variously attributed to either or both of the artists.

The second chapel on the left, the Raimondi Chapel (1640), was designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. It includes Francesco Baratta's Saint Francis in Ecstasy and sculptures by Andrea Bolgi and Niccolò Sale.

Irish chieftains' tombs

Inscription on the tomb of Hugh O'Neill

At the high altar are two tombs: that of Hugh O'Neill, The O'Neill, 2nd Earl of Tyrone and his son Hugh who predeceased him, and the tomb shared by Rory O'Donnell, 1st Earl of Tyrconnell, and his brother Cathbharr, both of them younger brothers of Red Hugh O'Donnell.

These fled Ireland in 1607. Rory, Lord Tyrconnell, died in 1608, his brother Cathbharr ("Calfurnius" in the inscription) and Hugh, the son of the Great Earl, died in 1609. The cause of death in all cases was fever, probably malaria. Their tombs are covered with marble inscribed slabs with coloured borders, crests and shields.[3] They are about 12 feet from the altar on the left as you face it and are normally covered by a carpet.

Lord Tyrone himself died in 1616 and was buried in the church with much less solemnity. The original simple tombstone was lost in about 1849, but the text of the short inscription was copied: "D.O.M. Hugonis principis ONelli ossa" (Dedicated to God the Best and Greatest. The bones of Prince Hugh O'Neill). In 1989, Tomás Cardinal Ó Fiaich laid a new marble plaque with the same inscription in approximately the original place.[3]

The Tempietto

The Tempietto in Andrea Palladio's Quattro Libri (woodcut, 1570).

The so-called Tempietto (Italian: "small temple") is a small commemorative tomb (martyrium) built by Donato Bramante, possibly as early as 1502, in the courtyard of San Pietro in Montorio. Also commissioned by Ferdinand and Isabella, the Tempietto is considered a masterpiece of High Renaissance Italian architecture.

After spending his first years in Milan, Bramante moved to Rome, where he was recognized by Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere, the soon-to-be Pope Julius II. In Rome, Bramante was able to study the ancient monuments firsthand. The temple of Vesta at Tivoli was one of the precedents behind the Tempietto. Other antique precedents Bramante was able to study in Rome include the circular temple of the banks of the Tiber, Temple of Hercules Victor, believed at the time to be a temple of Vesta. However, circular churches had already been employed by early Christians for martyriums, like Santa Constanza, also in Rome. Bramante would have been aware of these early Christian precedents, and as a result, the Tempietto is circular.

The "Tempietto" is one of the most harmonious buildings of the Renaissance. The temple was constructed from bearing masonry. The circular temple supports a classical entablature, and was framed in the shadowy arch of the cloister. It is the earliest example of the Tuscan order in the Renaissance. The Tuscan is a form of the Doric order, well suited for strong male gods (such as Hercules) so Tuscan was well suited for St. Peter's. It is meant to mark the traditional exact spot of St. Peter's martyrdom, and is an important precursor to Bramante's rebuilding of St. Peter’s.

Given all the transformations of Renaissance and Baroque Rome that were to follow, it is hard now to sense the impact this building had at the beginning of the 16th century. It is almost a piece of sculpture, for it has little architectonic use. The building greatly reflected Brunelleschi's style. Perfectly proportioned, it is composed of slender Tuscan columns, a Doric entablature modeled after the ancient Theater of Marcellus, and a dome. According to an engraving in Sebastiano Serlio's Book III, Bramante planned to set it in within a colonnaded courtyard, but this plan was never executed.


  1. ^ Fehl, Philipp (1971). "Michelangelo's Crucifixion of St. Peter: Notes on the Identification of the Locale of the Action". The Art Bulletin. 53 (3): 326–343.
  2. ^ Slatkes, Leonard (1966). "David de Haen and Dirck van Baburen in Rome". Oud Holland. 81 (3): 173–186. JSTOR 42711371.
  3. ^ a b Dr. Elizabeth Fitzpatrick, Lecture delivered at the Royal Society of Antiquaries Ireland, 11 April 2005 Archived 27 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine.


  • Freiberg, Jack (2014), "Bramante's Tempietto, the Roman Renaissance, and the Spanish Crown", New York, Cambridge University Press, 2014.
  • Fortunato, Giuseppe (2010) "The Role of Architectural Representation in the Analysis of the Building: The 3d Survey of San Pietro in Montorio's Temple in Rome", atti del "X Congreso Internacional expresiòn gràphica aplicada a la edificacìon, Alicante, Editorial Marfil", S.A., ISBN 978-84-268-1528-6.
  • Satellite Photo The Tempietto is the circular dome in the center, enclosed tightly by the cloister of San Pietro in Montorio. Just west is the white hemicircle of the Acqua Paola.

External Links

Anselmo Marzato

Anselmo Marzato, O.F.M. Cap. (1543–1607) was a Roman Catholic cardinal.

Antonio Tosti

Antonio Tosti (4 October 1776 – 20 March 1866) was Catholic Cardinal-Priest of San Pietro in Montorio in Rome and later Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals and Librarian of the Vatican Library.

Camillo Astalli

Camillo Astalli (21 October 1616 – 21 December 1663) was an Italian Catholic Cardinal and Cardinal-Nephew of Pope Innocent X who served Cardinal Priest of San Pietro in Montorio (1653–1662), Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals (1661–1662), and Archbishop (personal title) of Catania (1661–1663).

Christ at the Column (Caravaggio)

Christ at the Column (also known as The Flagellation of Christ; c. 1606/1607), is a painting by the Italian Baroque painter Caravaggio, now in the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen, Rouen, France.

This is one of two versions of the Flagellation of Christ by Caravaggio painted late in 1606 or early in 1607, soon after his arrival in Naples. The painting shows the flagellation of Christ following his arrest and trial and before his crucifixion. The scene was traditionally depicted in front of a column, possibly alluding to the judgement hall of Pilate. The snub-nosed torturer on the far right is recognisably the same figure who modelled as one of the torturers in The Flagellation of Christ, and as the executioner in Salome with the Head of John the Baptist.

The most famous treatment of the theme at the time was Sebastiano del Piombo's High Renaissance Flagellation of Christ in the church of San Pietro in Montorio in Rome. Piombo's Flagellation, much imitated by later artists, shows multiple idealised figures twisting through complex layers of space. Caravaggio has flattened the space, reduced the figures to a minimum, and used light to direct attention to the crucial parts of his composition - Christ's face and torso, the faces of the two torturers, and the hand holding the out-of-frame whip.

Ciriaco María Sancha y Hervás

Blessed Ciriaco María Sancha y Hervás (17 June 1833 – 26 February 1909) was a Spanish cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church who served as the Archbishop of Toledo in addition to being the Primate of Spain and the Patriarch of the West Indies. He established the Sisters of Charity in 1869.

He was beatified on 18 October 2009 during the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI; Archbishop Angelo Amato celebrated the rite of beatification on behalf of the pontiff. The second miracle required for his canonization is now under investigation.

Dirck van Baburen

Dirck Jaspersz. van Baburen (c. 1595 – 21 February 1624) was a Dutch painter and one of the Utrecht Caravaggisti.

Domenico Toschi

Domenico Toschi (June 11, 1535 – March 26, 1620) was an Italian soldier, jurist, and cardinal of the Catholic Church.

He was born in Castellarano in Reggio Emilia to a poor family. After having originally served as a soldier, Toschi became a noted canon lawyer. He wrote the multi-volume legal treatise Practicarum conclusionum iuris in omni foro frequentiorum. He served as Vice-Legate in Bologna and was its Governor (1585-1588), and then as a Councillor in Tuscany (1588-1592).

He was Bishop of Tivoli from 1595 to 1606. He was created Cardinal-Priest of San Pietro in Montorio on 3 March 1599 by Pope Clement VIII as a reward for successfully governing Rome while Clement was in Ferrara.He participated in the Papal conclaves of March and May 1605. Toschi was a candidate for the papacy in the May 1605 papal conclave, and was almost acclaimed pope, but Caesar Baronius intervened, objecting that Toschi was unfit for the papacy because his language and dress would cause scandal. Following Baronious' intervention, a scrutiny was taken, and Toschi fell short of election to the papacy by two votes.He transferred his titular church to Sant'Onofrio in 1604, returning to San Pietro in Montorio in 1610. He resigned as Bishop of Tivoli in 1606, and was replaced by his nephew, Giovanni Battista Toschi. He served as Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals in 1616-17. He died in Rome.

Donato Bramante

Donato Bramante (1444 – 11 April 1514), born as Donato di Pascuccio d'Antonio and also known as Bramante Lazzari, was an Italian architect. He introduced Renaissance architecture to Milan and the High Renaissance style to Rome, where his plan for St. Peter's Basilica formed the basis of design executed by Michelangelo. His Tempietto (San Pietro in Montorio) marked the beginning of the High Renaissance in Rome (1502) when Pope Julius II appointed him to build a sanctuary over the spot where Peter was allegedly crucified.

Fontana dell'Acqua Paola

The Fontana dell'Acqua Paola also known as Il Fontanone ("The big fountain") is a monumental fountain located on the Janiculum Hill, near the church of San Pietro in Montorio, in Rome, Italy. It was built in 1612 to mark the end of the Acqua Paola aqueduct, restored by Pope Paul V, and took its name from him. It was the first major fountain on the right bank of the River Tiber.

Francesco Baratta the elder

Francesco Baratta the elder (c. 1590-1666) was an Italian sculptor of the Baroque period.

He was born in Massa di Carrara, and moved to Rome to work under Gian Lorenzo Bernini. He was one of many siblings, one of whom, Francesco, became an architect.

Bernini had him carve the bas-relief for the altar in the chapel of St Francis of Assisi made for the Marchese Raimondi di Savona for the chapel in San Pietro in Montorio.

The statue of the Rio della Plata in the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi in Piazza Navona is attributed to Francesco. He completed a number of statues of Hercules, Lucrezia, and Cleopatra for the royal gallery of Dresden. His nephew, Giovanni Baratta was also a sculptor. Passeri describes him as imprudent and unruly in drinking and smoking, living without rules.

Giovanni Battista della Marca

Giovanni Battista della Marca (1532–1587) was an Italian painter of the Renaissance period.

He was also called Lombardelli and il Montano, and was born in Montenuovo. He was first a pupil of Marco da Faenza, and, according to Baglione, visited Rome during the papacy of Gregory XIII, painting in the style influenced by Raffaellino da Reggio, whom he assisted in some fresco paintings in the Vatican. For the church of San Pietro in Montorio, he painted a series of pictures of the Life of St. Francis and for the church of Santa Maria ai Monti, a Resurrection. There are several works of his in the churches at Montenuovo.

Giovanni Serodine

Giovanni Serodine (1600 – December 21, 1630) was a Swiss-Italian painter of the early Baroque period.

Born to a family of stuccoists in Ascona in Canton Ticino (in present-day Switzerland), he gravitated while in Rome and there developed an idiosyncratic expression of Carravaggist style. His style has the loose brushstroke and luminosity of some of the northern Caravaggisti, such as Lys, Strozzi, and Fetti, who were active in Venice; however, some of Serodine's canvases show a provincial eccentricity, for example Coronation of the Virgin in Ascona. Baglione found in his art a great vivacity, although he noted Serodine appears to have made few friends and patrons in Rome. In his short mature career, he produced a handful of intensely emotional tenebrist canvases such as a Jesus among the Masters (Louvre); Jesus and the Tribute money (National Gallery of Scotland); Saint Lawrence distributing alms (painted for San Lorenzo fuori le Mura, now Convent of Valvisciolo in Sermoneta); Decapitation of Saint John the Baptist (San Lorenzo fuori le Mura); Saint Michael (originally San Pietro in Montorio) and Transfiguration of Christ (whereabouts unknown); Road to Emmaus and Sons of Zebedee (Ascona); Portrait of his father (Lugano); and Portrait of a Philosopher (Rancate).

Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone

Hugh O'Neill (Irish: Aodh Mór Ó Néill; literally Hugh The Great O'Neill; c. 1550 – 20 July 1616), was an Irish Gaelic lord, Earl of Tyrone (known as the Great Earl) and was later created The Ó Néill. O'Neill's career was played out against the background of the Tudor conquest of Ireland, and he is best known for leading the resistance during the Nine Years' War, the strongest threat to English authority in Ireland since the revolt of Silken Thomas.

I quattro libri dell'architettura

I quattro libri dell'architettura (The Four Books of Architecture) is a treatise on architecture by the architect Andrea Palladio (1508–1580), written in Italian. It was first published in four volumes in 1570 in Venice, illustrated with woodcuts after the author's own drawings. It has been reprinted and translated many times, often in single-volume format.

Book I was first published in English in 1663 in a London edition by Godfrey Richards. The first complete English language edition was published in London by the Italian-born architect Giacomo Leoni in 1715-1720.

Pietro Cussida

Pietro Cussida, Pietro Cuside or Pedro Cossida (died October 1622) was a Spanish diplomat in the service of Philip III of Spain and his successor, Philip IV. He was an art collector and patron, known for his patronage of Caravaggisti artists, including Jusepe de Ribera and Dirck van Baburen.

Raimondi Chapel

The Raimondi Chapel is a chapel within the church of San Pietro in Montorio, Rome, Italy. The chapel houses the tombs of two members of the Raimondi family, Francesco and Raimondo. Both the architectural and sculptural elements of the chapel was designed by the artist Gianlorenzo Bernini - it was one of Bernini's first works where the relationship between the sculpture and the architecture was considered as a whole. Elements of the sculptures were executed by other artists in Bernini's circle; Andrea Bolgi did the busts of the two Raimondi brothers and the accompanying putti. Niccolò Sale undertook the reliefs on the tombs, while Francesco Baratta did the larger relief in the central altar. Work on the chapel took place between 1638 and 1648.

Rory O'Donnell, 1st Earl of Tyrconnell

Rory O'Donnell (Irish: Rudhraighe Ó Domhnaill) (1575 – 30 July 1608) was the last King of Tyrconnell and 1st earl of Tyrconnell. although that family did not inherit the title, nor the related territorial Lordship of Tyrconnell, the remainders of which were destined elsewhere.

Santa Maria della Peste, Viterbo

Santa Maria della Peste is a small temple-church (tempietto) in Viterbo built at the beginning of the 16th-century to give thanks to the Virgin Mary for the ending of the epidemic of 1493-4. The scourges for that year seem to consist of both syphilis and the bubonic plague. Epidemics recurrently affected towns in Europe over the centuries, with plague affecting Viterbo in 1363, 1374, 1400, 1463, 1476, 1522, 1566, and 1657. The architect is unknown, but the octagonal layout with a small domed roof, recalls another contemporary Renaissance tempietto by Bramante at San Pietro in Montorio in Rome. In the last century, the chapel has been rededicated to those who died in wars.

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