Of all the great Roman Churches and basilicas the Church of St Mary Major Rome enjoys the most successful blend of different architectural styles. Its colonnaded triple nave is part of the original 5th Century building. The Cosmatesque marble floor and delightful Romanesque bell tower, with its blue ceramic roundels, are from the medieval period. The Renaissance saw a new coffered ceiling, and the baroque gave the church twin domes and its most imposing front and rear facades. The mosaics are St Mary Major’s most famous feature. From the 5th century come the biblical scenes in the nave and the spectacular mosaics on the triumphal arch. Medieval highlights include a 13th century enthroned Christ in the loggia. The church of Santa Maria Maggiore is also famous for its’ excesses and instigated some violent demonstrations by the protestants who vehemently opposed the decoration of the entire ceiling with gold leaf when thousands were starving… Today, the church remains one of Rome’s most fascinating churches and is well worth a visit.
Did you Know? The whole of the ceiling above the nave and loggia was completely covered in gold and gold leaf. This caused consternation amongst christian groups and events like this and others gave rise to the protestant faith who “protested” against the excesses of the Catholic Church in Rome.