(b. 1475, Caprese, d. 1564, Roma)

Exterior view

begun 1562
Santa Maria degli Angeli, Rome

As part of his urban improvements to this area of Rome, Pope Pius IV took up the campaign of a Sicilian visionary Antonio del Duca (brother of the architect Giacomo del Duca) that a part of the ancient Baths of Diocletian (AD 298-306) should be re-dedicated for Christian use. Michelangelo was called in to convert the tepidarium into the Carthusian church of Santa Maria degli Angeli (built from 1562). He oriented it north-east/south-west, with the main door and high altar on the short axis and long 'transepts' ending in side-entrances. His interventions were minimal. Because the original groin vaulting and the great rose-granite columns that supported it were largely intact, Michelangelo simply walled off the transepts from the rooms beyond, built a long barrel-vaulted choir behind the altar, whitewashed the vault and tiled the roof. The present opulent interior is the result of a major reworking by Luigi Vanvitelli in the 18th century, which obscures Michelangelo's intentions.