Minor Roman Churches: Santa Barbara dei Librai

Rome is a city known for its momentous churches, but it is also a city of chapels and smaller churches and one of the quainter ones is the church of Santa Barbara dei Librai located near Campo de' Fiori. History buffs may find it of interest that the church sits adjacent to the ruins of the theatre of Pompey -- a structure from the Republican era of Rome which was built by the Roman general and politician, Pompey the Great, who, along with Julius Caesar and Marcus Crassus, formed the First Triumvirate of the Roman republic. The church is dated at least to the early 14th century, though there is some claim to a much earlier vintage and many would place its existence to at least as early as the 11th or 12th century. The name "dei Librai" comes from the fact that in the year 1600 the church was given to a confraternity of bookbinders, publishers and scribes.  In the 19th century the church fell into disuse for more than a century, only being restored to use in the early 1980's. 

The facade of the church, like so many churches of Rome, was re-fashioned with a baroque facade by Giuseppe Passeri that includes a beautiful sculpted image of St. Barbara by Ambrogio Parigi. 

Today the church's facade has been encroached upon even more by the adjacent buildings -- frankly, a part of its interest and charm -- but in the seventeenth century it apparently had a slightly less cramped appearance. 

The interior is relatively straightforward as Roman churches go and has long since lost any of its original Romanesque appearance. 

Concealed behind the forward altar of the post-concilar period (an unnecessary and in fact impractical addition, but I digress) is a beautifully coloured marble facing on the historical high altar, better seen in these photos;

Located along the side of the nave are various side altars which are also furnished with similarly styled coloured marble facings. 

However, the real story of this church, to my mind, is most certainly the quaint facade, squeezed into a small, trapezoidal piazza. As such, if you are only able to see the exterior, that alone may be worth your time if you wish to see one of the more unique church facades of Rome. 

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