Where to begin? S.M della Vittoria has to be in my top 4 churches in Rome, perhaps even my top 7 of all time. Those of you who have ears will have heard my podcast on heaven’s inherent contradictions. The cover photo for that most enjoyable podcast post was a Bernini sculpture from within this church. This remains the principle reason for this church’s high ranking in my list. I’ve pictured it for you below.

I’m not sure if you can see in detail the magnificent ode to Bernini’s genius. The sculpture is a representation of the ecstasy of Santa Teresa D’Avila in Spain. We were taught about her in philosophy class in sixth form. My first sight of it, some two years ago, came as quite a shock!

There it is in more detail. This work was created between 1647-52. To see it now, survived nearly 400 years in perfect condition is really quite impressive. It can be found in the Cornaro chapel. But you can’t miss it, there is always a queue.

The church was begun in 1605 as a chapel dedicated to Saint Paul for the Discalced Carmelites. After the Catholic victory at the battle of White Mountain in 1620, which reversed the Reformation in Bohemia, the church was rededicated to the Virgin Mary. Turkish standards captured at the 1683 siege of Vienna hang in the church, adding to the theme of the Virgin helping to lead Catholic armies to victory.

My advice to you would be to check the open times. It closes around 12.30 for three hours. I’ve never understood the European need to take 1/4 of their day off, but then again I seldom eat.

The interior of the church is adorned with triumphant themes. Every you look there’s a gilded stuccos and corinthian pilaster there, and even a fresco of The Virgin Mary Triumphing over Heresy and Fall of the Rebel Angels executed by Giovanni Domenico Cerrini in 1675.

In all, it would be silly not to witness this glorious ode to Bernini’s genius. Additionally, it’s right in the centre of Rome. No excuses! Via Veneto , nearby, is also very much worth seeing.