CAFÀ, Melchiorre
(b. 1638, Vittoriosa, d. 1667, Roma)

Santa Rosa of Lima

c. 1667
Marble, life-size
Iglesia de Santo Domingo, Lima

The life-size marble group of St Rosa of Lima (terracotta sketch model in Palazzo Venezia, Rome), which shows the death of the first New World saint, introduced a new realm of feeling to Baroque sculpture. The emotional state of Santa Rosa of Lima demonstrates how fully Cafà absorbed the lessons of Bernini's Ecstasy of Saint Teresa in the Cornaro Chapel, Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome.

Cafà shows an angel comforting the dying Rose, who wore a spiked, metal crown and suffered privations in imitation of the medieval Dominican, St Catherine of Siena. A highly emotive work, St Rose of Lima is notable because it was the first work to depict a saint dying, and undoubtedly influenced subsequent works like Bernini's Blessed Ludovica Albertoni, or analogous paintings by Carlo Maratta and others.

Rose of Lima (1586-1617) was a member of the Third Order of St Dominic in Lima, Peru, who became known for both her life of severe asceticism and her care of the needy of the city through her own private efforts. A lay member of the Dominican Order, she has been declared a saint by the Catholic Church, being the first person born in the Americas to be canonized.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.