no. 3   july - september 2006

The Demolition of the Monastery of Traspontina (Rome) in 1939

In 1939, with the reworking of the Borgo neighborhood in order to create the new Via della Conciliazione, the "pic ax" of the Fascists did not see it convenient to spare the Carmelite monastery of Traspontina. So it was demolished only to be replaced by a new building that occupies the same space, some 2570 sm, running alone the Borgo Nuovo (now Via della Conciliazione), the Vicolo della Traspontina (now Via della Traspontina), by Borgo S. Angelo, and by S. Maria della Traspontina church itself.

The origins and the fortunes of the now destroyed Carmelite monastery were always connected to those of the Church of Traspontina, which was originally built near Castel S. Angelo and given to the Carmelites in 1484. When this building was demolished to make way for the fortifications of the castle, the Carmelites built the new Traspontina on the current site in 1565.

The attached monastery, which when it was completed had two cloister areas with arches designed by Maderno, was for centuries the center of Carmelite presence in the whole world.
The Carmelite religious and the Priors General of the Order lived there until 1873, when the monastery became state property. The religious then occupied only one section of the second floor running along Borgo Nuovo and the apartment of the Prior General (on the first floor on the same street), maintained for Fr. Angelo Savini during his life. Saviniís successor, Fr. Luigi Galli, had to pay the civil government a three year rent for this apartment, until he was forced to move out in 1893. He moved to other quarters in the Convertendi building.

With the demolition in 1939 the few religious who were still living in the rooms on the second floor had to vacate them and were forced to convert the space on the roof above the chapels of the church, the so-called from ancient time "Corridor of the Indians," into living areas.

An idea of how the monastery at Traspontina appeared before and during the demolition in 1939 can be glimpsed from various photos, taken in 1938 and conserved in the General Archives of the Order and by some watercolors by Giuseppe Fammilume executed before and during the demolition and currently housed in the Museum of Rome.

Emanuele Boaga, O. Carm.
General Archivist

Santa Maria in Traspontina and front of the old monastery before 1939 - Note the building at the far left which was removed by Mussolini to build the Via Conciliazione which runs in front of the church today.

Sketch of Santa Maria in Traspontina and the adjoining Carmelite monastery which housed the Orderís Curia and Collegio Santí Alberto until 1873.