Santa Maria dell'Orto

Early ‘400, the part of Trastevere towards the port of Ripa Grande was almost uninhabited and nearly entirely cultivated to vegetable gardens. One day, perhaps in 1488, "when a devotional person was finding himself in incurable infirmity and when he had seen an image of Immaculatissima Vergine Maria (the Virgin Mary) in a very old wall inside a vegetable garden … he maked vow: if he recovered from the called infirmity, he would hold a perpetual lamp lighted in front of the above-mentioned figure" (Fanucci).

The person healed and maintained the promise: others, following his example, wanted to contribute to the public cult of the image gathering in Brotherhood, approved in 1492 by Alexander VI and raised to Archbrotherhood rank by Sisto V in 1588. An oratory was built around the icon and it was started the construction of a chapel, that was substituted by the present church. Probably in the same period also a little hospital was constituted contextually to the forming of the aggregation.

During the time thirteen University of arts and professions was included to the Archbrotherhood. These University competed with each other to embellish and adorn the church promolting great sums to ensure the work of distinguished artists for itself: everywhere in fact decorations of fruit and vegetables appear, sure sign of University of Ortolani and Fruttaroli (greengrocers), as well as mills and little balances as sign of University of Molinari and Pizzicaroli (owners of mills and delicatessen shopkeepers). The wooden turkey of XVIII century is a gift of University of Pollaroli (sellers of chicken).

The statute, in the edition of 1842, lists quite nine University but the tradition wants to be twelve: University of Mercanti (merchants); University of Sensali Ripali (brokers); University of Molinari and Garzoni of Molinari (owners of mills); University of Pizzicagnoli or Pizzicaroli and Giovani of Pizzicaroli (delicatessen shopkeepers); University of Ortolani and Ragazzi of Ortolani (greengrocers); University of the Fruttaroli and Limonari (greengrocers); University of Vermicellari or rather craftsmen and resellers of dough; University of the Pollaroli (sellers of chicken); University of the Scarpinelli or Ciabattini (Cobblers); University of Mosciarellari; University of Vignaroli; the University of Barilari of Ripa.

At the beginning of 1500 the activity of the Brotherhood assumes the double function of aggregation and men's meeting place. People that, active in their profession, recognised themselves in single faith and entrust their devotional and charitable lifes to a company of bigger dimensions than the corporation.

The hospital and the associate pharmacy reach their full activity when the sanitary assistance was supplying to the members of several corporations that devoted themselves to their maintenance. At the end of 1600, with growing of corporations and the increase of population, the hospital was widened with the adding of a building of size almost equal to the primitive building. For the same reasons, also the pharmacy was rebuilt, at the expense of University of Ortolani (greengrocers) and of the College of Speziali. There were also many decorative interventions on the church went on initiative of single corporations. At the end of 1700 difficulties began for the Archbrotherhood caused by the historical events that gave an ugly blow to the activity of the society.

The activity of the hospital, due to the undressing and the devastation undergone the Jacobin Republic, was hung and in spite of repeated attempts not more reopened. The situation got worse in the following century when there were formulated measures to suppress the corporations and the existing university.

The Archbrotherhood, deprived of many possession, managed to ensure, in any case, for the restauration of the church (1825). In 1852, the hospital was suppressed definitively and the premises were destined to the manufacture of tobaccos; so the area previously booked by the hospital, the vegetable garden and the littel cemetery was occupied by the factory. The pharmacy was used instead as civil habitation. In 1870, it was sanctioned the definitive loss of the properties of the Archbrotherhood following the laws about the corporations.

Santa Maria dell'Orto
Santa Maria dell'Orto Forty Hours Machine
If you want to see "live" installation of the famous "machine" of Holy Thursday, go to page The Feast and click the video.
Santa Maria dell'Orto Blessed Nakaura
In our church there is the portrait of Blessed Julian Nakaura which is currently the only existing in the world outside Japan.
Magnetic and memorable gaze of our Madonna (detail original fresco of '400)
Santa Maria dell'Orto

Vergine gloriosissima, che per l'eccellenza
della vostra verginità illibata e feconda,
veniste dichiarata dallo Spirito Santo un
Orto racchiuso e un fonte sigillato, perché
mai ammetteste in Voi stessa altro Signore
che quel Dio che vi creò, come Orto e Paradiso
di sue delizie, deh! volgete amorosa da quella
vostra Immagine uno sguardo materno sopra
l'infelice anima mia, che tante volte si è
fatta schiava vilissima del peccato; e per
quell'amore speciale con cui dal Cielo vi
siete palesata fra di noi qual Orto fecondo
di grazie in nostra giustificazione e salute,
impetratemi dal vostro Divino Figliolo, che
reggete tra le braccia, una vera contrizione
dei miei peccati, e una costante emendazione
dei miei costumi. Amen.
Tre Ave Maria

Giardino Chiuso sei, o Maria, Giardino Chiuso; Fontana sigillata, Fontana che irrora i giardini del Paradiso.

V: Ricordati, o Vergine Madre, di elargire a noi i tuoi doni.
R: E fa che venga allontanato il suo sdegno da noi.

O Dio, che per la Vergine Santa, Madre tua, Maria, mirabilmente moltiplichi le tue grazie a salvezza dei popoli, a noi, che pienamente ricordiamo i tuoi benefici che per Lei ricevemmo, concedi di meritarne altri maggiori fino alla tua beatifica visione. Tu che vivi e regni con Dio Padre, nell'unità dello Spirito Santo, per tutti i secoli dei secoli. Amen