Lesser-Known Roman Churches, Part IV

Continuing in our series, on this feast of All Souls, it is fitting to feature the Church of Our Lady of the Soul (Santa Maria dell’Anima), the church for the German-speaking population of Rome and dedicated to the Holy Souls in Purgatory.

This jewel of a church is located just off of the famous Piazza Navona, but on a street that many tourists would not walk down. If you go there on a weekday morning it should be open, and you’ll be glad that you went.

Here is the church’s facade; as you can see, it is a narrow street:

Very plain, hiding the fact that the inside is extremely beautiful.

Here is the bell tower (which we saw in the previous post on Santa Maria della Pace, the church that is behind Santa Maria dell’Anima):

And just behind it, the dome of Santa Maria della Pace

When you walk in, immediately on the right hand side you see a side chapel with a very striking painting of a bishop inspecting the innards of a fish. This is the bishop St. Benno, and you can read about that legend at this link.

If it’s not true, it should be.

Moving along the right hand side and looking up, you can see the gorgeous ceiling:

Recently restored, I think.

Towards the back on the right-hand side, there is a beautiful reproduction of the Pietà (done by a different artist – not Michelangelo – who also took some liberties with various details, such as the position of Christ’s head). As you can see, there is red jasper marble all around the image, for a striking display.

I love the silver candlesticks.

Keep in mind that I have skipped over a couple of chapels by this point (and I have so far only been on the right side) – including a chapel with a 16th century crucifix. Now we take a look at the impressive sanctuary:

Except for the ridiculous modern altar they put in it, in the foreground.

Near the sanctuary there is this dramatic funerary monument (I think for a Bishop), telling us in Latin that this person remembered his death during his life (in other words, he prepared himself well for death):

You can see that some restoration work is going on currently, with scaffolding up in the background there.

Well, there were many more things that I could have photographed in Santa Maria dell’Anima, but this is a good sampler. A wonderful church and definitely worth a visit.


Chiesa di Santa Maria dell’Anima
Via di Santa Maria dell’Anima, 64
00186 Rome, Italy

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