The Baroque church of Santa Maria in Campitelli was built as the shrine for a tiny icon of the Madonna and Child, which was believed to have stopped an outbreak of the plague in 1656. The architect was Carlo Rainaldi (1611-91).
The beautiful silver-gilt and enamel icon, known as the Madonna del Portico, sits above the high altar in a huge gloria, a dramatic burst of golden rays. As it is only about 25 cm high, the icon, which is thought to date from the 13th century, is too small to see with the naked eye.
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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