Presepio in Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome
by ARNOLFO DI CAMBIO

The Crypt of the Crèche is located under the altar of the Sistine Chapel in Santa Maria Maggiore. Here are preserved as relics some of the boards said to have been part of the cradle of Jesus, sent to Rome during the papacy of Theodore I (642-649). Pope Nicholas IV (1288-1292) created the project of building a Nativity scene (Presepio) as a chapel designed to give renewed emphasis to the relics of the manger. Arnolfo di Cambio was given the commission of realizing both the architecture and the statuary, but little remains today of his work, since the small oratory was actually moved in 1590 by Domenico Fontana during construction of the current Sistine Chapel. By using a system of pulleys and winches suspended from the vault of the new structure, Fontana enclosed the entire Chapel of the Crèche, detached from its foundations, in a sturdy wooden framework and set it down in the centre of the new edifice below the level of the floor, to create its crypt. The operation was praised as a perfect success, but the structure probably suffered some damage. Today it is possible to admire in loco some of Arnolfo's statues, but the group of the Virgin and Child has been lost, substituted by a 16th-century Virgin Enthroned attributed to Pier Paolo Olivieri.

Preview Picture Data File Info Comment
Presepio
-
Marble
Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome

900*668
Grayscale
99 Kb



Presepio (detail)
-
Marble
Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome

720*1000
Grayscale
121 Kb



Presepio (detail)
-
Marble
Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome

751*1000
Grayscale
118 Kb



Presepio (detail)
-
Marble
Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome

1000*1230
True Color
115 Kb



Presepio (detail)
-
Marble
Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome

749*1000
Grayscale
145 Kb



Presepio (detail)
-
Marble
Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome

682*1000
Grayscale
78 Kb



Presepio (detail)
-
Marble
Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome

751*1000
Grayscale
121 Kb



Presepio (detail)
-
Marble
Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome

760*1000
Grayscale
117 Kb



Presepio (detail)
-
Marble
Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome

751*1000
Grayscale
128 Kb



Presepio (detail)
-
Marble
Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome

771*1000
Grayscale
115 Kb



Presepio (detail)
-
Marble
Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome

1000*707
Grayscale
111 Kb



Presepio (detail)
-
Marble
Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome

1000*768
Grayscale
120 Kb



Summary of sculptures by Arnolfo di Cambio
de Braye Tomb | Works in Rome | Tabernacle in Trastevere |
Presepio | Works in Florence | Works outside Rome |