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The name "Sopra Minerva" means "Over Minerva" signifying that this basilica was built atop an older Temple of Minerva in the Campus Martius section of ancient Rome.  It suffers from being in the category of "right-around-the-corner-from-something- better-known," namely the Pantheon.  It is the church in Rome for the Dominican Order.




When one reads that Santa Maria Sopra Minerva is the only Gothic basilica in Rome, it comes as a surprise to see the facade which looks more like a big-box warehouse.  It gets better inside though.  Much better.




Probably the most well-known feature of the basilica is the statue in front of the elephant with the Egyptian obelisk on it.  It was erected in 1667 but the obelisk dates back to the 6th century BC and shows a dedication to Pharaoh Hopha, who is mentioned in the Bible in Jeremiah 44:30.  The statue of the elephant incorporating the obelisk was designed by Bernini.  Every resource in books and the internet will confirm that.  The newest guide book from the basilica, however, disputes that and says it was probably designed by a Dominican artist, Giuseppe Paglia.  The inscription on it's base says that only a strong mind can endure the weight of the Divine Wisdom.  That round building behind is the Pantheon.





Rose windows abound in the basilica.  This is probably the most beautiful and is situated over the main entrance.  Unless you can get your camera up to the height of the center of the window (you can't) the framing obscures some of the lower portion.




The nave of the basilica with the main altar at the end.




A devotional statue to St. Mary in the nave.  You can see some of the chapels in the right aisle.




The vaulted ceiling is beautiful in its simplicity.  This basilica was the hardest of any to photograph because of the extreme contrasts in light.




The main altar.  The illuminated sarcophagus below the altar contains the remains of St. Catherine of Siena, Patron Saint of Italy and Doctor of the Church.  The two Medici Popes Leo X and Clement VII are interred on either side of the apse in white marble sarcophagi.




Michelangelo's statue The Redeemer stands between the main altar (rt) and the vestibule (lt).




One of the three sets of stained glass windows behind the main altar.




In the Frangipani Chapel is the tomb of the painter Fra Angelico, who was, of course, a Dominican.



The vestibule created for the Jubilee Year of 1600.  This portion contains the tomb of Cardinal Carlo Bonelli.




To the left side of the vestibule is the tomb of Cardinal Michel Bonelli.




And on the right side, the tomb of Cardinal Pimentel.  All three of the tomb occupants died in the 17th century.




The most prominent chapel in the basilica is the Carafa Chapel.  It contains among other things the tomb of Pope Paul IV, a Dominican Pope famous as the Great Inquisitor of the Counter-Reformation.




The Sacristy.  The hardwood cabinetry here dates back to the 17th century.




The Lante Della Rovere Chapel.