Blessed Ludovica Albertoni
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Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s religious ode to the newly canonized saint, Blessed Ludovica Albertoni, is tainted by a dark secret that almost explains the agony that reads on her face.

Her expression reveals that she’s either in the passionate throes of lovemaking, in severe pain, experiencing the moment of her death and ecstatic communion with the man upstairs, or all of the above. Honestly, we can’t really tell just from looking at her, but research has shown that this is the moment of her death, and that she’s got a VIP ticket to the pearly gates. As for whether she’s experiencing the agony of death or the carnal ecstasy of her union with God, that’s the part Bernini usually left up to the imagination, if you know what I mean.

Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the bad boy of the Baroque, took sculpture to another level by introducing more passionate expression and cascading drapery than was seen in the Rococo style. We’re honestly surprised he had time to hone his skills though, considering his favorite pastime of getting in fights and navigating a love-hate relationship with his brother, Luigi, that endured more ups and downs than Lindsey Lohan circa 2015. I’ll spare you the entire saga, but there is one particular event that was so salacious that it got them landed on the front page of US Weekly. Well, more like the 17th century version: a series of avvisi or official papal announcements that were eventually exposed in 1959 by art historian Valentino Martinelli. Fair warning, the events that follow are not pretty.

Luigi Bernini, who was evidently incapable of keeping his penis to himself, forced himself on a young boy right next to an equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius. You can imagine the jokes that were made about this incident, even hundreds of years ago. Word spread like wildfire and before long, everyone knew of these dark events. A total creep and also a huge fan of not being imprisoned, Luigi fled Rome, to which the Pope said “good riddance” and exiled him for good (amen to that!). Gian Lorenzo, in his old age by this point, was heartbroken by the news. I guess that means the two of them buried the hatchet since the whole “Gian Lorenzo trying to kill Luigi for sleeping with his mistress” thing that happened 30 years earlier.

In order to bring Luigi out of exile, Bernini basically kissed the Pope’s ass and called upon all of his highest connections, even promising to make a series of marble sculptures for the papal family free of charge, among which was the statue of Blessed Ludovica Albertoni that he sculpted to adorn the tomb of the saint. I guess Ludovica is hiding secrets even darker than whether she’s mid-orgasm or not.



  1. Careri, Giovanni. Bernini: flights of love, the art of devotion. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995. 43
  2. Mormando, Franco. Bernini: His Life and His Rome. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013.
  3. Perlove, Shelley Karen. Bernini and the idealization of death: the Blessed Ludovica Albertoni and the Altieri Chapel. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1995. 10-14
  4. Fenton, James. "How Great Art Was Made." The New York Review of Books. Accessed July 18, 2017.