The remarkable Cappella dei Re Magi (Chapel of the Three Magi, 1654-64), which was designed by that genius of the Baroque Francesco Borromini (1599-1667), is part of the Palazzo di Propaganda Fide.
The dedication of the chapel was made on the grounds that the three Magi could be regarded as the first pagans to embrace the Christian faith. Their conversion could therefore be regarded as a good symbol for the missionary work organised by the Sacra Congregatio de Propaganda Fide (Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith), which was based in the palazzo.
The beautiful vault, with its criss-crossing bands of stucco, is one of the most striking aspects of the chapel. In the centre of the vault is the Dove of the Holy Spirit.
The two paintings in the apse are the Adoration of the Magi (1634) by Giacinto Gimignani and Christ Gives the Keys to St Peter (1671) by Lazzaro Baldi. The coat of arms of Pope Alexander VII (r. 1655-67) is flanked by stucco statues of Faith and Religion, the work of Cosimo Fancelli.
Fancelli is also responsible for the coat of arms of Pope Alexander VII at the opposite end of the chapel, which is flanked by statues of Justice and Abundance.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private walking tours of Rome.
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