The 14-metre-high marble column, which stands in front of the church of Santa Maria Maggiore, comes from the Basilica of Maxentius. It was set up here in 1614, at the behest of Pope Paul V (r. 1605-21), and is crowned with a bronze statue of the Virgin and Child, the work of Guillaume Berthélot and Orazio Censore.
At the time the column was set up, the Basilica of Maxentius was known as the Temple of Peace. The inscription on the north-west face states that the column was dedicated to the Virgin Mary: EX CVIVS VISCERIBVS PRINCEPS VERAE PACIS GENITVS EST (From whose womb was born the Prince of true peace).
The column duly came to be known as the Colonna della Pace (Column of Peace).
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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