Tucked away at the end of a short alley, in the heart of the city, stands the Madonna dell' Archetto, the smallest church in Rome.
Santa Maria Causa Nostrae Laetitiae, to give the church its full name, was built in 1851 by the Roman architect Virginio Vespignani (1808-82) for Alessandro and Caterina Muti Papuzzuri-Savorelli. Its much venerated altarpiece, the Madonna Causa Nostrae Letitiae (1690), is the work of Domenico Maria Muratori.
The church was built to house the image, whose name means the 'My lady the cause of our happiness', which had begun life as an ordinary street shrine or Madonnella. However the image soon begun to act in extraordinary ways. In 1696 Mary was seen to move her eyes and the image quickly became a site of popular devotion.
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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