The majestic facade of the church of Santa Maria Maggiore was designed by the Florentine architect Ferdinando Fuga (1699-1782), at the behest of Pope Benedict XIV (r. 1740-58), and built between 1741 and 1750.
Above the entrance portico is the Benediction Loggia, from which a pope can bless the people in the piazza. The two allegorical statues above the main entrance are Chastity by Giovanni Battista Maini and Humility by Pietro Bracci. The coat of arms belongs to Pope Benedict XIV. The outer pair of statues are the Blessed Nicholas Albergati by Filippo Della Valle and St Charles Borromeo by Francesco Queirolo.
A statue of the Virgin and Child, the work of Giuseppe Lironi, crowns the facade. It is flanked by the statues of four popes of uncertain identuty.
Fuga's facade masks a much older facade, which, by good fortune, retains its medieval mosaics.
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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