Chiesa di Santa Maria in Campitelli (or in Portico)
This church is located on Piazza Campitelli just north of the Teatro di Marcello. King James III and VIII was especially devoted to the Blessed Virgin under the title "in Portico" - the title under which she is the special protectress of the City of Rome. The feast of Our Lady in Portico is celebrated on July 17th.
When Henry, Duke of York (later King Henry IX and I) was made a cardinal deacon, he was given this church for his cardinalatial title, July 31, 1747. He retained the title of this church when he was raised to the rank of cardinal priest, September 16, 1748. Even when he was transferred to the titular church of Santi XXII Apostoli, December 18, 1752, Henry retained the title of Santa Maria in Campitelli in commendam (until February 12, 1759). One source says that "Henry also spent enormous sums over the decoration of Santa Maria in Campitelli". 1
King James III and VIII left the church an endowment on condition that prayers be said here for the conversion of England to the Catholic Faith. The exact form which these prayers have taken seems to have varied over the years. 2 At present (2001) a prayer is recited on Saturday evenings after the 6.30 p.m. mass. 3
The church is now run by the priests of the Order of the Mother of God. Upstairs in the attached monastery there is a hallway where are displayed on the wall five altar frontals; one of these is embroidered in gold thread with Henry's arms as Duke of York. Application to see the altar frontal may be made at the sacristy.
The church is open daily from 7.00 a.m. to 12.00 noon, and from 4.00 p.m. to 7.00 p.m.
1 Alice Shield, Henry Stuart, Cardinal of York, and His Times (London: Longmans, Green, 1908), 168, with a footnote to Carlo Antonio Erra, Storia dell'Immagine e la Chiesa di Santa Maria in Portici di Campitelli: Dedicata al Cardinale Duca di York (1750).
2 Shield, 118: "To this church . . . out of affection for his son's early connection with it, King James, in 1751, bequeathed money for a perpetual mass for the conversion of England. The mass is duly said, with Benediction, every Saturday at 9. The Duke of York never failed to be present while in Rome, frequently accompanied by his father." Herbert M. Vaughan, The Last of the Royal Stuarts: Henry Stuart, Cardinal Duke of York (London: Methuen, 1906), 56: "and to this very day, therefore, according to the terms of the Stuart King's bequest, thirty candles are lighted on the high altar and certain litanies recited every Saturday one hour before noon." Robin Anderson, Rome Churches of Special Interest for English-Speaking People (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1982), 115: "This link . . . continues with Saturday evening Benediction to the present day."
3At the end of mass, a leaflet is distributed with the prayer in Italian and English; it is recited in Italian only.
"Preghiera ecumenica a S. Maria in Portico"
Image I (Facade): Photo Roma Web Site (http://www.photoroma.com/Photo/436.htm).
Image 2 (Altar Frontal of King Henry IX): © Noel S. McFerran 2001.