A Jacobite Gazetteer - Rome

Cappella della Madonna dell' Archetto


This chapel (sometimes called Cappella di Santa Maria dell' Archetto) is located at Via di San Marcello 41b. It is immediately to the north of Palazzo Balestra on the right side of the street. The present building was erected in 1851.

The former chapel on this site was a favourite place of prayer for Henry, Cardinal Duke of York (later King Henry IX and I) who was accustomed to say the Rosary here each evening. King James III and VIII arranged for a guard for the chapel so that it could remain open at hight for prayer. One source says that there is a tablet recording this action. 1

In 1721, the Prince of Wales (later King Charles III) was baptised here by Sebastiano Pompilio Bonaventura, Bishop of Montefiascone, the same prelate who witnessed the marriage of King James and Queen Clementina. 2 There is an oil painting of the baptism by Pier Leone Ghezzi (1674-1755) in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. 3

The chapel is presently owned by the Primaria Società Cattolica Promotrice di Buone Opere. It is usually kept closed behind wrought-iron gates, but a caretaker will unlock it.


1 Bryan Bevan, King James the Third: A Study of Kingship in Exile (London: Robert Hale, 1967), 123, "but the wrong date is given".

2 Ibid., 125.

3 Helen Smailes, The Concise Catalogue of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery (Edinburgh: Trustees of the National Galleries of Scotland, 1990), 328. The painting measures 243.9 cm x 350.3 cm. The work was probably painted between 1722 and 1735, the year in which it was given by James to the Bishop of Montefiascone. The editor of Exhibition of the Royal House of Stuart (London: New Gallery, 1889), 52, says that this painting and a companion work depicting the marriage of James and Clementina "were painted for the Prince [i.e. James III and VIII] and presented by him to the Bishop of Montefiasconi [sic], though they appear to have been for a time in the palace of the Cardinal York. They remained in possession of the prelate's family, hanging in the Grand Saloon of the old Bonaventura Palace at Urbino. Gradually this ancient family died out, and, finally, when Olimpia and Ottavia, co-heiresses and last of the race, divided the remaining property, nearly all their art-possesssions were sold. The pictures were bought in 1845 by the eighth Earl of Northesk and brought to Scotland." In 1982 the painting was purchased by the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

Image 1 (Entrance): © Noel S. McFerran 2001.

This page is maintained by Noel S. McFerran (noel.mcferran@rogers.com) and was last updated April 3, 2004.
© Noel S. McFerran 2000-2004.