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Today we look at the Church of San Giovanni della Pigna, or in English, St. John of the Pine Cone. The St. John named is St. John the Baptist; the pine cone is a reference to the name of the neighborhood where the church is located; the square in front of it also has the same name – Piazza della Pigna, or Pine Cone Square.
There has been a Catholic church on this spot since at least the 10th century; the present church was built upon the foundations of the original one and was completed in 1624. As the Latin inscription on the facade indicates, the church was entrusted to the archconfraternity (a type of association of the faithful) dedicated to caring for the incarcerated. So this would have been their “home base”, where they prayed and encountered the Lord in the sacraments before going to encounter Him in the imprisoned.
The church is – for central Rome – rather small. I think about 70-80 people could comfortably sit in the pews. And although it looks very richly decorated, much of it is trompe l’oeil painting: there is very little real marble in this church. So it was built very economically.
It is located in the same neighborhood as the Pantheon and the Basilica of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, but is on a side street that would probably not be on the typical tourist track. This is why, if you come to Rome, it is always interesting to walk down the side streets (in the historic center) and see what you find that is not in the tourist guides.
Here, then, are some pictures, with some commentary in the caption beneath each one:
This would be a very nice church to stop in for a few moments of prayer; it is quiet and intimate, and not too far off the beaten track.
Chiesa di San Giovanni della Pigna
Vicolo della Minerva, 51
00186 Rome, Italy