Madonnelle: The Marian Shrines of the Streets of Rome

Any pilgrim to the Eternal City will have no doubt noticed the Marian shrines which can be found throughout the city, not attached to churches but rather found in the streets of Rome. To Romans these are known as "Madonnelle" and come in various forms, shapes and sizes. In point of fact these can be found elsewhere in Italy other than Rome, but it is Rome which is our focus today. These public manifestations of faith and piety have been found for centuries in Rome and Italy and purportedly derive from an ancient Roman custom that pre-date the Christian era, tied to lares or deity-guardians that were believed to protect people against evil in public places. 

The images themselves are frequently canopied to protect them from the elements and the present examples date mainly from the 17th century onward. In some instances, the images had miracles attributed to them and they were thus re-located to one of the churches of Rome. However, many of these images still remain in the streets, standing as a public testament to the Catholic faith and piety of the Italian people. 

Here are just a few examples of what, at one time, numbered thousands of the shrines found within the streets of Rome.

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