You may have noticed this brick church while walking around Trastevere. It is seldom open. But when it does, it is for a big show!
Santa Maria dell’Orto was built in the second half of the 16th century and traces its name from a miracle by the Virgin Lady in a nearby garden.
This church still holds the Fourty Hours’ Vigil (the time lapse between Jesus’ death on Friday afternoon and his resurrection on Sunday morning) that begins on the night on Maunday Thursday when the church remains open until midnight. An exercise of devotion created in 16th century Italy in which continuous prayer is made for 40 hours before the Blessed Sacrament exposed.
And this is the only church in Rome which not only respects the old liturgical practice but also features the special structure called “machine“, a huge wooden candelabrum made up of candles and other lights.
On the evening of 17 April, 2014 S. Maria dell’Orto will be lit up by a triumph of leafy and flowered lights going up gradually and pushing their solemn spirals over the high, severe altar. The Machine, tenderly and proudly set up by the church’s brothers, holds 213 candles that give the holy place an unforgettable appeal with the reflection of the natural light on the 18th century white stuccoes, the frescoes and the golden objects.
A free and unique experience in the heart of Rome’s nightlife that you can’t miss as the doors of the church will be left open for you to see the spectacle inside.
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Photo credit: Lalupa