More about Santa Maria della Vittoria


The site of Bernini’s most orgasmic work, Santa Maria della Vittoria is one of a million tourist attractions in Rome.

Pretty much all of Rome is an ancient, historic landmark so it’s hard to keep track, but this church in particular is a must-see.

Santa Maria della Vittoria is a Roman Catholic titular church (no, that doesn’t mean it’s shaped like boobs) dedicated first to Saint Paul then to the Virgin Mary. In 1605, the chapel was built for the Discalced Carmelites, which is a really fancy way of saying barefoot Catholic devotees. They lived in poverty so they would not be tempted away from their worship of God. Anyways, the barefoot monks paid for the construction of the building themselves, until they found the Sleeping Hermaphroditus in the middle of the construction. Cardinal Scipione Borghese, the nephew of Pope Paul V, called dibs and off it went to the Borghese Museum then later to the Louvre. It came at a price though. Borghese paid for the rest of the construction on the facade of the building and gave the barefooted monks his architect to design it. Unfortunately, Borghese did this only two years before the end of construction, so it wasn’t as lavish of a gift as it sounds.

One of the most fun parts about this church is that Bernini’s Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, by far the most unintentionally sexually explicit sculpture of the 17th century, lives there. Saint Teresa’s “vision” looks a lot more like an orgasm than divine inspiration, which is extra ironic because the Catholics were really not fans of any sexual acts that don’t directly make a baby. All the more reason to go see Santa Maria della Vittoria, am I right?