The artistic heritage of the confraternity assisting the condemned to death

Façade of the chiesa di San Giovanni Decollato on the right; entrance to the complex of San Giovanni Decollato on the left, Rome

Façade of the chiesa di San Giovanni Decollato on the right; entrance to the complex of San Giovanni Decollato on the left, Rome.

Near the renowned piazza della Bocca della Verità but hidden in a still preserved area of rione Ripa, a religious art treasure of Rome opens only once a year to the public, on the occasion of the feast of its patron San Giovanni Battista on the 24th of June: the complex of San Giovanni Decollato. Dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, patron of Florence, this complex was the seat of the Arciconfraternita della Misericordia. Counting members as Michelangelo Buonarroti, the important archconfraternity of Florentine origin assisted the sentenced to death, praying for them and giving them a burial.

Altar wall at the Oratory of San Giovanni Decollato, Rome

Altar wall at the Oratory of San Giovanni Decollato, Rome. Francesco Salviati, Sant’Andrea (on the left) and San Bartolomeo (on the right), 1550; Jacopino del Conte, The Deposition, ca. 1550-1553, central altarpiece painted on panel.

Giovanni Battista Nolli, Detail showing the complex of San Giovanni Decollato, from the New Plan of Rome (Nuova Pianta di Roma), 1748

Giambattista Nolli, Detail from the New Plan of Rome (Nuova Pianta di Roma), showing the church (1049); oratory (1050) and cloister (1051) belonging to the complex of San Giovanni Decollato, 1748.

The recently restored 16th century murals, considered as masterpieces dating to the Mannerist period, enrich the inner walls of the church and the oratory, mostly painted by artists from Tuscan-Roman school such as Giorgio Vasari, Jacopo and Francesco Zucchi, Pomarancio, Giovanni Balducci called il Cosci, Giovanni Battista Naldini and Monanno Monanni.

Entrance wall at the Oratory of San Giovanni Decollato, Rome

Entrance wall at the Oratory of San Giovanni Decollato, Rome. Jacopino del Conte, Sermon of Saint John the Baptist (Predica del Battista), 1538, mural painting, on the left; The Baptism of Christ (Battesimo di Cristo), 1541, mural painting, on the right.

Francesco Salviati intervened in the oratory decoration around the fervent years of the Jubilee of 1550, prepared by pope Paolo III Farnese but celebrated by pope Giulio III. The Florentine painter was the protagonist around the mid-16th century in Rome and worked for prestigious patrons. Paying his most sincere tribute to Michelangelo’s plasticity, in 1550 Salviati painted the powerful figures of Sant’Andrea and San Bartolomeo on both sides of Jacopino del Conte's altarpiece, excellent panel depicting the Deposition. Soon after, Salviati showed the complexity of his cultured inspirations by executing the Nativity of the Baptist, dated to 1551 (see Zuccari 1998, p. 268 and Cox-Rearick 1998, p. 25).

You find it here

Opening time: every 24th of June 9.30 - 12.30 amon the occasion of the patron's feast. All the other days it is potentially accessible upon previous governor's authorization.

Tickets: free (on the occasion of allowed extraordinary opening, a possible donation is by your choice)

Organization: Arciconfraternita San Giovanni Decollato

Governor: Dott. Francesco Scalia

Battista Franco, Arrest of the Baptist (Arresto del Battista), ca. 1543, left wall at the Oratory of San Giovanni Decollato, Rome

Battista Franco, Arrest of the Baptist (Arresto del Battista), ca. 1543, left wall at the Oratory of San Giovanni Decollato, Rome.

Pirro Ligorio (attr.), Dance of Salome (Danza di Salomè), ca. 1544 (?), left wall at the Oratory of San Giovanni Decollato, Rome

Pirro Ligorio (attr.), Dance of Salome (Danza di Salomè), ca. 1544 (?), left wall at the Oratory of San Giovanni Decollato, Rome.

Unidentified artist following Francesco Salviati, Beheading of the Baptist (Decollazione del Battista), 1553, left wall at the Oratory of San Giovanni Decollato, Rome

Unidentified artist following Francesco Salviati, Beheading of the Baptist (Decollazione del Battista), 1553, left wall at the Oratory of San Giovanni Decollato, Rome.

Jacopino del Conte, Annunciation to Zechariah (Annuncio a Zaccaria), 1536-38, mural painting, right wall at the Oratory of San Giovanni Decollato, Rome

Jacopino del Conte, Annunciation to Zechariah (Annuncio a Zaccaria), 1536-38, mural painting, right wall at the Oratory of San Giovanni Decollato, Rome.

Francesco Salviati, The Visitation (Visitazione), 1538, right wall at the Oratory of San Giovanni Decollato, Rome

Francesco Salviati, The Visitation (Visitazione), 1538, right wall at the Oratory of San Giovanni Decollato, Rome.

Francesco Salviati, Nativity of the Baptist (Nascita del Battista), 1551, right wall at the Oratory of San Giovanni Decollato, Rome

Francesco Salviati, Nativity of the Baptist (Nascita del Battista), 1551, right wall at the Oratory of San Giovanni Decollato, Rome.

Follower of Michelangelo, Beheading of the Baptist (Decollazione del Battista), late 16th century, right wall at the chiesa di San Giovanni Decollato, Rome

Follower of Michelangelo, Beheading of the Baptist (Decollazione del Battista), late 16th century, right wall at the chiesa di San Giovanni Decollato, Rome.

Façade and exterior of the chiesa di San Giovanni Decollato on the right; entrance to the complex of San Giovanni Decollato on the left, Rome

Façade and exterior of the chiesa di San Giovanni Decollato on the right; entrance to the complex of San Giovanni Decollato on the left, Rome.

Interior of the chiesa di San Giovanni Decollato, Rome

Interior of the chiesa di San Giovanni Decollato, Rome.

Cloister of San Giovanni Decollato, ca. 1535-55, re-built around 1600, Rome

Cloister of San Giovanni Decollato, ca. 1535-55, re-built around 1600, Rome. This cloister also served as a sort of cemetery where the remains of the executed penitents were buried.

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