Trinita dei Monti
Trinity Church of the Mountain. On one of my Thursdays off I was invited out to the Trinity Church on the Mount by a fellow seminarian. It is situated on top of the Spanish Steps in one of the most popular tourist destinations in Rome, Piazza di Spagna, mainly for the views, shopping and dining.
This church was founded by St Francis of Paola, it is said that he founded an order tied to the Franciscan Friars but found it not challenging enough so he started his own order the Minims Friars, Minims for least in the house of God. On top of the standard vowels of poverty, chastity and obedience he added perpetual lent, this included abstinence from meat and dairy products for life, he also started out by living in a cave as well. If you are struggling with your Lenten observances, think about what this guy gave up.
The French King Charles VIII had the church built in Rome in 1495, in recognition to the Italian fryer who travelled to France at the Kings request to be his father's ( Luis XI ), confessor on his death bed. The church sits atop the Spanish steps. Spanish because they link the church to the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See at the bottom of the hill. It was actually built and paid for by the French though.
The Spanish steps are made up of 12 flights of steps with 12 steps in every flight, very apostolic.
At the top of the steps the entrance of the church has spectacular views across Rome. The near dome is St Ambrose and St Charles Borromeo the the far dome is St Peters.
Inside the church is a spectacular altar as is pretty standard in Rome. The attraction for us was that this church and convent adjacent is now run by the French Emmanuel community. The community is made up of lay, religious and Priests. Their main goal is missionary in evangelization, and education and catechism.
On Thursday nights the Emmanuel community hold an Eucharistic adoration hour in which they light up the altar with candles, sing songs is French, Italian, English and some Latin at intervals throughout the adoration. They provide mats and low seats at the front of the church to sit on, and have 'lucky dip' scripture baskets that you can take a piece of scripture from and meditate on during the adoration. They also try to actively evangelize the faith to passing tourists who come to the church as there are many, and invite them to pray in front of the blessed sacrament. This has become a Thursday night go to, to end our day off for some of our seminarians.
Connected to the church is the convent where the community lives.
The cloister walls and ceilings are decorated with paintings.
Up the staircase to the first floor.
What is interesting about this convent is that is was the home of the Minim who were avid science and medical scholars, and at one time had there own pharmacy in house.
One of the members was and avid artist or illusionist and the walls are painted with a picture that where you are standing in the correct position it looks like a tree with the monk under it praying, maybe St Francis of Paola. But move slightly out of position and it looks like a painting of a landscape of hills and clouds.
The end of the hall wall is also painted to make it look like the hall extends beyond.
This one is meant to be St John the evangelist writing the gospel. And again when you move up close you see it as hills a farm and houses.
One hall wall is marked with geometric lines all over from top to bottom and cites marked at various intervals, what are they for?
Well on the other side of the corridor is a window with a small hole in the bottom with a glass mirror on the sill, that when the sun shines, it reflects onto the wall and they were able to tell what the time was, not only in Rome but other places all across Europe from Jerusalem to London.
This was probably done in the 1600's.
This was a painting in a chapel in the convent done by a sister in an order after the after the Minimums moved out. It is of The Blessed Virgin Mary, it is said that St Terse of Lisieux prayed in front of it before her audience with Pope Leo XIII To ask if she could join the Convent in France, as she was staying in a hotel at the bottom of the steps. As we know she was successful in her request and entered at the young age of 15.
St Francis of Paolo, the expert in lent fast expert he lived to 91 years of age. St Francis pray for us