The Popes' Church
The church of San Gioacchino ai Prati was built to honour the fiftieth anniversary of the ordination to the priesthood of Pope Leo XIII (r. 1878-1903). It is dedicated to St Joachim, the father of the Virgin Mary (Leo XIII was born Gioacchino Pecci). The pope's portrait appears twice: in the mosaic on the facade and in one of the many beautiful stained glass windows.
The church, which was designed by Raffaele Ingami (1838-1908), was consecrated on June 6th, 1911. Uniquely, it is crowned with a metal finial that takes the form of monstrance, the receptacle in which the consecrated host is displayed.
San Gioacchino ai Prati is an example of a chiesa pontificia, which means that it is the property of the pope.
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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 and
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