Chapel of the Immaculate Conception

Here you are in front of the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception. Contemplate the softness and the lightness of this painting and discover without delay the brushstrokes of the Nazarene painters.

  • descriptionHistory of the chapel

    This was originally where The Descent from the Cross by Volterra was located but is now the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception. In 1526, this chapel was assigned to Archbishop Aldobrandino Orsini, and then to his daughter Elena. She entrusted the decoration of the chapel to Daniele da Volterra in 1545. Of this first Mannerist decoration, which was renowned for its beauty, only The Descent from the Cross, later installed in the adjacent chapel, survives in the adjacent chapel. The decoration one sees today is the fruit of what the nineteenth-century Ladies of the Sacred Heart wanted in the church, which was more in line with their spirituality. For this, they called on the German artists belonging to the Nazarene movement. The new chapel of the Immaculate Conception was inaugurated on December 8, 1830, and is considered a perfect reflection of the new phase in the history of Trinità dei Monti, thanks to these frescoes in which “the simplicity and clarity of the narration surpass the search for a beautiful image”.

  • brushDescription of the paintings

    In the centre of the chapel there is the painting that gives it its name, that is, The Immaculate Conception. It is a work by Philippe Veit, a Nazarene painter, and it is characterized by a great gentleness, both in the expression of the Virgin’s face and in her measured and serene gestures. Through this work, one can see the transition to a more sober and internalized representation of spirituality and passions. This type of image was especially favoured by the Ladies of the Sacred Heart, present at Trinità dei Monti from 1824 to 2006. It contrasts with the preceding artistic affinities, which leaned more towards expressing the passions and the almost theatrical sensitivities of the Mannerists. In this way, each community has significantly affected the site of Trinità dei Monti with its artistic taste and its spirituality.

    On the left, one finds a representation of the Annunciation: this Biblical episode recalls the visit of the Archangel Gabriel to Mary during which he announced to her that she had been chosen by God to bear his son, Jesus, and that she would become pregnant through the Spirit. On the right of the chapel, there is a representation which echoes the Annunciation: the Visitation. This event recalls the visit Mary made to her cousin Elizabeth, who was also pregnant, and who felt when Mary approached, her infant leap for joy in her womb, which was a sign of a great joy to come, the birth of Jesus.

  • searchZoom on the Nazarenes

    The two painters who worked in this chapel were Philippe Veit, a Jewish convert to Catholicism, and Joseph Ernst Tunner, his disciple. Both were of German origin, and they belonged to the group of the Nazarenes. The members of this artistic movement were numerous Jews and Protestants converted to Catholicism. Founded at the beginning of the nineteenth century, they wanted to renew art through religion, taking inspiration from artists such as Dürer and Raphael.

    This name, ‘Nazarenes’ derived from their type of clothing and their hairstyles, based on those of biblical characters.

    The presence of these two artists at Trinità dei Monti shows the Roman settlement of the Nazarenes. Papal Rome was open to this neo-medieval painting, typical of Catholic Romanticism. At this time, besides the style of the German painters, people in papal circles admired their militant step. In fact, as Protestants who had converted to Catholicism, the Nazarenes wanted to make art a prayer and Rome the home of truly Christian art.

  • chat_bubbleThe Immaculate Conception

    To understand the mystery of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, one must first note that, if God created humanity free and oriented towards the Good, since the original sin – that of Adam and Eve – each human being has been marked by sin. We have all experienced being torn between good and evil. Mary, the mother of Jesus, although born of a man and a woman, is exempt from this mark of sin, which means that everything in her is turned towards the Good, towards God.

    Traditionally, the Church has honoured the Blessed Virgin as the Immaculate Conception, but this devotion intensified in the nineteenth century, notably after the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin at Rue du Bac in Paris in 1830 (the year of the inauguration of this chapel at Trinità dei Monti). In 1854, Pope Pius IX proclaimed the Immaculate Conception as a dogma, that is, as a fundamental and incontestable element of the Catholic Faith. In 1858, when the blessed Virgin appeared at Lourdes and when Bernadette asked who she was, she replied, in the local dialect, “I am the Immaculate Conception”.



Whether believers or not, we stand before this very gentle woman, who trusts completely in God. Let us allow ourselves to be embraced by her serenity and her complete devotion.


In front of this chapel, I may think particularly of people who suffer, who do not necessarily have much confidence in life, who are afraid and are always invaded by anxiety. I can entrust them to Mary, to this mother of all people, who opens her mantle so that we may take refuge there, so that we may be completely consoled.