A Jacobite Gazetteer - Rome

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.

Altar Frontal of King Henry IX and I
Altar Frontal of King Henry IX and I

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"
Vergine Santissima, che da tanti secoli
fai sentire la tua presenza materna
in questa comunità credente.
Ascolta la preghiera che con forza ti rivolgiamo
per tutta la Chiesa di Cristo e in particolare
per i nostri fratelli della Comunione Anglicana.
Donaci con il tuo aiuto materno
una coscienza profonda dei nostri limiti,
per non lasciarci travolgere dall'orgoglio
e servire Dio con umilità.
Concedici, o Madre di ritrovare la via dell'unità
nel mistero della redenzione compiuto dal tuo Figlio Gesù,
che avvolto nella veste purpurea della passione,
si immola sulla croce per la Chiesa sua sposa.
Accendi nei cuori di tutti la luce del Vangelo di verità,
prega in questo cenacolo, perché Tuo Figlio mandi
lo Spirito di unità, di concordia e di perdono.
Raccogli tutti i tuoi figli presso il porto della salvezza
per costituire l'unico popolo dell'alleanza.
Fa, o Madre che spunti presto il giorno in cui concordi
formiamo un solo ovile sotto un solo pastore. Amen.
"Ecumenical Prayer [to] our Lady in Portico"
Most Holy Virgin Mary, for many centuries
you have made your maternal presence
felt in this community of the faithful:
hear the prayer which we earnestly make to you
for the whole Church of Christ and in particular,
for our brethren of the Anglican Communion.
Give us, in your maternal love,
a deep awareness of our limitations,
that we may not be led astray by pride
in the humble service of our God.
Grant, our Mother, that we may find again the way to unity
in the mystery of the Redemption
which has been won for us by your Son Jesus,
who, clothed in the purple garment of his Passion,
offered himself on the Cross for his spouse, the Church.
Enlighten our hearts with the light of the Gosepl of truth;
pray, among the apostles in the upper room,
that your Son may send us the Spirit of unity,
harmony and mutual forgiveness.
Gather once more all your children around the portico of salvation
so that we may become one undivided people of the Covenant.
Mother, may that day soon come in which all of us, in
harmony, may form a single flock under one Shepherd.

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.

This page is maintained by Noel S. McFerran (noel.mcferran@rogers.com) and was last updated November 8, 2003.
© Noel S. McFerran 2000-2003.