The Church of S. Andrea della Valle – Rome 1883


January 13th.

To-morrow, Sunday, closes the solemn celebration of the Octave of the Epiphany, instituted in 1836, by the Venerable Vincent Pallotti, a Roman priest, founder of the Pious Society of the Missions, known as the Pallottini. This octave, as usual, was celebrated in the Church of S. Andrea della Valle, served by the Theatine Fathers. Three sermons in Italian are pronounced daily, and the sermon at 11 a.m. in some foreign tongue ; whilst each day Mass is solemnly Pontificated in some one of the various rites existing in the Catholic Communion. Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament terminates the evening function, generally imparted by a Prince of the Church. The three English preachers this year were the Very Rev. Father Lockhart, of the Fathers of Charity; Mgr. O’Bryen, and Rev. Henry Aikell, of the Pious Society of the Missions. The Italian sermon, at 3.30 p.m., was delivered daily by the celebrated orator, Mgr. Canon Omodei-Zorini, and attracted immense crowds. This Church of S. Andrea della Valle, which, according to some writers, takes its name from the slight hollow, now scarcely perceptible, left by the eurissius, or reservoir, built by Agrippa for the public benefit, and used by Nero in his fetes ; others claim that it, as well as the square wherein it stands, owes its appellation to the adjoining palace of Cardinal Andrea della Valle, raised to the Purple by Leo X., 1517, which palace was the habitation of the celebrated traveller Pietro della Valle, and was filled with Oriental curiosities, fruit of his distant voyages. The site of the present church was formerly occupied by a church dedicated to St. Sebastian, known as de Via Papae, near which was a sewer which authors of the seventeenth century confound with that wherein the body of that martyr was discovered ; as we read in his Acts this latter church, though a parish, was demolished in 1590 by decree of Pope Sixtus V., as also a smaller church close by dedicated to St. Louis of France, and the Church of St. Andrea della Valle, as it now stands, erected in place thereof, after the designs of the Roman architect, Pietro Paolo Olivieri, the corner-stone being laid in 1591 by Cardinal Alfonso Gesualdo, and finished after those of Carlo Maderno, excepting the facade, which is by Carlo Rainaldi. The two Cardinals Peretti, nephews to Sixtus V., contributed generously to its completion, as did also Cardinal Maffeo Barberini, afterwards Pope Urban VIII. The frescoes of the cupola are by Lanfranco ; those of the Four Evangelists at the angles are by Domenichino, as also the flagellation and glorification of the Apostle St. Andrew, in the upper part of the Tribune, likewise the Six Virtues at the sides of the three windows, all works of rare excellence. In this church are the tombs of Popes Pius II. (Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini), and Pius III., his nephew, removed from the old Basilica of St. Peter.

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