Preserving the Popes' Praecordia
The 17th century Baroque church of Santi Vincenzo e Anastasio a Fontana di Trevi, which stands within the shadow of the Trevi Fountain, has a rather curious claim to fame, housing as it does the praecordia of twenty-two popes.
The praecordia are the internal organs which are removed when a pope is embalmed. The first pope to have his praecordia preserved in the church was Sixtus V (r. 1585-90), the last was Leo XIII (r. 1878-1903). Two plaques in the sanctuary record the names of all twenty-two popes.
Santi Vincenzo e Anastasio was founded in the 10th century, but the present church was built by Martino Longhi the Younger (1602-60) between 1646 and 1650 on the orders of Cardinal Mazarin (1602-61), who served as chief minister to the French kings, Louis XIII and Louis XIV. The facade sports the cardinal's coat of arms.
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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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