Passions & Places

Chiesa di S.Giovanni

Chiesa di San Giovanni

Maria SS. Addolorata Confraternity handed over Chiesetta San Giovanni to Gaspare Spontini following his request in 1840. The musician decided to build there an old people’s home and the new church of San Giovanni. The works were supervised by Ciriaco Santini, architect in Jesi.

The Church was built according to the Neoclassic Style. It was supposed to keep the mortal remains of Gaspare Spontini. The musician died on 24th January 1851 though and the church was unfinished. Spontini was so dressed in the winter suite of Accademico di Francia and placed in triple coffin. After three days of funeral honours the coffin was brought to Santo Stefano Parish Church. The body was embalmed and the heart was given to his wife Celeste Erard that took it with her to Paris.

After Spontini died, his wife took personal care in the commission of the canvas to be placed above the main altar. She commissioned the opera to Bellay, a painter in Rome. The canvas should have depicted the Crucifixion. Rumors had that Bellay was Celeste’s cousin’s husband. She then sent two other important operas: Madonna Addolorata, Guercino copy, San Sebastiano painted by herself.

Chiesa San Giovanni was completed on 7th March 1853. So Spontini’s mortal remains were translated there. The body was placed in a grey marble sarcophagus shaped by Fedele Biancini from Macerata. It is enriched by a central marble cameo in Neoclassic style portraying the musician profile. It was probably engraved by James Pradier, David D’Angers or Carlo Marocchetti.

The Church has a rectangular plant spotted by semicircular apses and symmetric niches thought for the placement of other sarcophaguses. The dome overlooking the faithful is sustained by four columns on each side. The capitals are in Corinthian style. The main altar is instead sheltered by a barrel vault with panels decorated with stuccoes. The two side niches are instead covered by semi-domes decorated with grey and white stuccoes.

Spontini’s wife should have been buried in a tomb similar to his husband’s. She died in France though on 1st  October 1878. She was so laid to rest in the Pere-Lachais Cemetery in Paris. Instead of her sarcophagus there is a cenotaph, in her memory in San Giovanni Church.

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