Press Review

El Greco inaugurates the preparation for the Jubilee 2025 in Rome

The exhibition of El Greco (Candia, 1541 – Toledo, 1614) is hosted in the Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone in Rome and includes three masterpieces by the artist: “The Holy Family with Saint Anne” (1590-1596), “The Baptism of Christ” (1596-1600), and “Christ Embracing the Cross” (1590-1596). These paintings, which belong to private collections, are being exhibited outside of Spain for the first time on this occasion.

The opening ceremony was presided over by Monsignor Rino Fisichella, the pro-prefect of the Dicastery for Evangelization. The exhibition, which is part of the program “Jubilee is Culture,” a preparation for Jubilee 2025 with numerous cultural activities and proposals, will be open until October 5, 2023, and can be visited daily from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM.

The exhibition catalog praises the Greek-born artist, highlighting that “El Greco’s painting is extremely evocative: there are landscape views in his paintings that could be cut out and presented with the signature of Paul Cézanne; others evoke Claude Monet; some of the constructions in his paintings and certain anatomical deformations of his figures bring to mind Matthias Grünewald, or refer to the considerations of expressionists, for example, Franz Marc, who saw in this artist a model. Furthermore, the traces left on El Greco by the paintings of Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese, Bassano, and Correggio are evident.”

“The Holy Family with Saint Anne” (1590-1596)

The painting “The Holy Family with Saint Anne” was donated to the Hospital of San Juan Bautista in Toledo around 1631. This theme had already been depicted by El Greco in other paintings, including one version with Saint Anne and the young Saint John the Baptist. However, the Hospital’s version is considered the “brightest and most elegant.”

Diagnostic analyses of the painting revealed that beneath the Virgin’s face lies a precise drawing, with traces of a patient search for ideal beauty. The catalog explains, “In that face, El Greco’s tension toward perfect harmony is evident, which was supposed to make it visible how the person of Mary of Nazareth is the result of God’s salvific work, the first miracle of Christ, a concrete example of how a human being becomes a masterpiece of deep spiritual beauty if fully connected to the life of the incarnate Son of God.”

In this work, Saint Joseph caresses the foot of the Child Jesus in a gesture that expresses “tenderness but also emphasizes the experience of the Incarnation: the son generated by his virgin wife, whom he knew he had not contributed to generating, is not the insubstantial appearance of a celestial being but a true human being, endowed with sensitive flesh like ours.”

“The Baptism of Christ” (1596-1600)

The painting of “The Baptism of Christ” comes from the main altar of the chapel of the Hospital de Tavera in Toledo.

The robes of Christ are in the hands of angels. One of them is red, like one of the principal robes of Roman emperors. The other robe is blue, symbolizing the divine nature of Jesus.

The fact that Christ removes his garments to enter the water also has symbolic value: “First of all, it expresses Christ’s humble stripping, as he renounced all splendor to come to us as a friend and to descend into our weakness and our death from which to raise us up.” It also anticipates the moment when Jesus is stripped of his garments at the foot of the Cross. “The immersion in the waters where sinners sought the purity that springs from God’s merciful intervention finds its fulfillment in Christ’s immersion in his passion and death, the supreme work of divine mercy that offers everyone the possibility of true purification,” the catalog states.

“Christ Embracing the Cross” (1590-1596)

The painting “Christ Embracing the Cross” was located in the church of Santa Catalina in El Bonillo (Albacete). It was identified as an El Greco work in 1928 when sculptor Ignacio Pinazo and journalist Abraham Ruiz were selecting paintings for the Ibero-American Exhibition of Seville in 1929. Soon after, experts from the Prado Museum, including Ángel Vegue and Goldoni, confirmed El Greco’s authorship. Alfonso Emilio Pérez Sánchez, director of the Prado Museum from 1983 to 1991, dated the work between 1590 and 1596, considered the painter’s most brilliant period.

The artist’s signature appears twice on the painting, in Latin and Greek. This has led critics to believe that it is the original prototype used by El Greco for subsequent replicas.

It is not known how this work ended up in El Bonillo, the only village in Albacete to have an El Greco work. However, it is known that at the time, the parish of Santa Catalina was one of the wealthiest in the Archdiocese of Toledo, and its parish priest between 1595 and 1631, Don Pedro López de Segura, was a great art enthusiast (218 paintings appear in his will and inventory). He also knew El Greco personally and had befriended him. Don Pedro also attended literary evenings at Buenavista Palace, which El Greco frequented. There, he also met Miguel de Cervantes. Among the paintings listed in the will and inventory of the parish priest of Santa Catalina, there was one described as “Christ carrying the cross.”

Although it is not certain, it is possible that this is El Greco’s “Christ Embracing the Cross,” currently exhibited in Rome.

Jubilee 2025: Rome, the inauguration of the exhibition with El Greco’s masterpieces at Sant’Agnese in Agone on September 6

By Filippo Passantino, AgenSIR

On Wednesday, September 6, at 6:00 PM, the exhibition “The Open Skies. El Greco in Rome” by the Spanish painter El Greco (Candia, 1541 – Toledo, 1614) will be inaugurated at the Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone, in the presence of Monsignor Rino Fisichella, the pro-prefect of the Dicastery for Evangelization. In the church of Piazza Navona, three masterpieces by the renowned artist of the Spanish Renaissance will be exhibited until October 5, 2023, marking their first departure from Spain as they belong to private collections: The Holy Family with Saint Anne (Toledo, Hospital de Tavera), The Baptism of Christ (Toledo, Hospital de Tavera), Christ Embracing the Cross (El Bonillo, Museo Paroquial). The exhibition will be open every day from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM. This initiative is part of the “Jubilee is Culture” program, filled with cultural events in preparation for Jubilee 2025. “The Open Skies. El Greco in Rome” is one of the first moments of great art that opens a “pilgrimage” of beauty towards the Holy Year.

The CNT Method and Science for the Rising Damp Problem in Ground and Basement Floors.

By Maria Luisa Zerilli, Facility Manager at CNT

It’s called the church of the world. Pilgrims from all over the world come to Rome and the Basilica of Santa Agnese in Piazza Navona. Beneath the iconic square, under the Basilica, lies a mystical crypt, that of the youngest martyr among all our martyrs, almost a child, Saint Agnes. It’s a story that touches the heart. These completely underground spaces originated from some rooms beneath Emperor Domitian’s Stadium in 86 AD. The crypt has been renovated and restored several times, but the problem of rising damp has never been resolved. In 1653, Borromini carried out the most important restoration, followed by other restoration efforts to this day, but paintings and frescoes depicting the life of the young maiden Agnes and her martyrdom always remained almost illegible due to the rising damp in this crypt. In 2017, at the initiative of Engineer Luca Mazzola, Honorary President of EMASST, and with the support of the Basilica’s Rector, Monsignor Paolo Schiavon, another restoration project was launched with the priority of addressing the damp issue, as any restoration would have been futile otherwise. The project involved a special microclimatic treatment system for temperature, ambient humidity, and air sanitization in a balanced state. However, none of this would have been effective without eliminating the rising damp in the walls, both for the floors and the underground Roman masonry. After all the failed attempts to address extreme dampness like this, what can truly guarantee the success of this challenge? The scientific path and applied research of the CNT-APPs research group on a large number of crypts in Italy, such as the Crypt of San Zeno in Verona and the Crypt of Sant’Ambrogio in Milan, represented the assurance of success even for the Crypt of Santa Agnes. In 2020, the CNT was installed, and at that precise moment, the rising damp phenomenon stopped, and the natural evaporation of water contained in the crypt’s walls began. In advanced dehumidification in 2022, the restoration work began under the direction of Rita Rivelli, a highly acclaimed restorer in Rome, who, along with her team, did an extraordinary job in restoring the crypt to its original splendor with its paintings and frescoes depicting the story of Agnes. Work is still ongoing for another part of the crypt, but the path taken is the right one. It’s a beautiful story, a success story that can be told and experienced by experts and professionals in the field, as well as university professors. On September 26, a workshop on effectiveness has been scheduled, involving various experts, for technical and scientific reflections on the value of preserving historic buildings freed from rising damp using the Neutralization Technology.

The Restoration of the Crypt of Santa Agnese in Agone

By Maria Luisa Zerilli, Facility Manager CNT

Rome’s most iconic church is the Basilica of Santa Agnese in Agone in Piazza Navona. Work of Francesco Borromini.
The crypt, site of the martyrdom of St. Agnes was in a very serious situation due to different forms of humidity. A situation of high ambient humidity, sometimes over 90 percent, exaggerated rising damp with enormous amounts of evaporating water and lack of air exchange, was leading these precious frescoed places to suffer.

Fortunately, the design choices of restoration were done well and the most advanced technologies for conservation and Restoration were applied, with the utmost professionalism of the 𝙄𝙣𝙜. 𝙇𝙪𝙘𝙖 𝙈𝙖𝙯𝙯𝙤𝙡𝙖 and the valuable attention of 𝙈𝙤𝙣𝙨𝙞𝙜𝙣𝙤𝙧 𝙋𝙖𝙤𝙡𝙤 𝙎𝙘𝙝𝙞𝙖𝙫𝙤𝙣, Rector of the Basilica.

Priority was given to conducting a careful diagnostic study of the state of affairs, performed by 𝘿𝙤𝙩𝙩. 𝙋𝙞𝙚𝙧𝙤 𝘾𝙞𝙘𝙘𝙞𝙤𝙡𝙞 of the CNR and then both CNT Charge Neutralization Technology to interrupt capillary rise and ADECO Technology for targeted and balanced air exchange for conservation with pollutant abatement were installed.

In parallel, a restoration tem directed by 𝘿𝙤𝙩𝙩.𝙨𝙨𝙖 𝙍𝙞𝙩𝙖 𝙍𝙞𝙫𝙚𝙡𝙡𝙞 is doing a splendid job of bringing back the beauty of this crypt, accompanying the restoration until it is completely dehumidified.

Today’s results exceed expectations.
The microclimate enormously improved, and from the first investigations of can claim a reduction of more than 40 percent of rising humidity with only one year of application of DOMODRY’s CNT, while RIELCO’s system, performs its valuable task of reciprocating air in a balanced way with temperature control.

The next stage of study and verification has been scheduled for 2023. The initial positive trend may be reconfirmed and final testing scheduled for 2024.

It was a joy to perceive Monsignor Schiavon’s satisfaction today that he realized he was on the right path to complete the restoration of a place that is unique in the world and of which he feels the utmost responsibility to hand it over to future generations in the best possible state. Healthy and wholesome, decent, restored from dampness by applying the highest principles of restoration and conservation along with the latest technology.

#technology #restorationconservation #domodry #rielco #Adeco #humiditadirisalita #humidityenvironmental #cntapps




“Le Meraviglie” – Claudio Strinati racconta il Barocco (


Cardinal Müller:

Europe Must Imitate Courageous Witness of St. Agnes
by Edward Pentin

National Catholic Register, 21 January 2020

To combat neo-paganism in Europe and guarantee the continent’s future, Catholics must follow the example of St. Agnes of Rome and courageously witness to the faith, Cardinal Gerhard Müller has said.
Referring to recent controversies, the prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith also said a politician who “symbolically holds up the Rosary is more to be trusted than one who literally takes down the Cross of Christ.”
Cardinal Müller made the comments during a homily in his titular church of Sant’Agnese in Agone in Rome this evening on the feast day of the third-century saint.
He recalled how Catholics admire the “heroic courage” of St. Agnes, who suffered martyrdom at the age of 12 during the reign of Roman Emperor Diocletian, and the fact that in childhood she was able to “distinguish between the unique and true God and the many false gods of the pagans.”
Recalling how other early Christians also sacrificed their lives to bring the faith to ancient pagan Rome, the German cardinal noted how many people today have “forgotten — or consciously cut off — their Christian roots,” and create a “neo-pagan replacement religion” in the form of the “cosmos, our planet, evolution, the internet and technology.”
They act as if such “passing realities” somehow give man the “final foundation and stronghold,” and congratulate themselves for the “purported scientific insight” that man is “merely an animal and that after death everything ends.”
But St. Agnes, he said, “encourages us” to witness to the faith “without fear of men.”
“Only in Christianity does the future of Italy lie” and “neo-paganism is her sure doom,” he continued, adding “it is a vain effort to have dialogues with the old [Eugenio] Scalfari when the atheist concluded from them, and in a confused manner, that the Pope had denied the divinity of Christ.”
The cardinal was referring to Pope Francis’ frequent interviews with the 95-year-old communist atheist founder of the Italian daily La Repubblica newspaper.
In one of the most recently reported encounters, Scalfari alleged the Pope does not believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ but in the ‘semblance of a spirit.’ The Vatican said Scalfari’s report of the interview, which like others was not recorded, are not a “faithful account” of what was said but rather a “personal and free interpretation.”
Cardinal Müller said such interviews are a “vain effort” because only by “witnessing, with Saint Peter, by day and night: ‘Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God’” does a pope speak as “pope of the entire Catholic Church.”
He went on to urge Catholics to “work together” with those who are “intellectually and morally capable” to bear responsibility for the “economic, political, cultural and religious future of Europe” and added that only the “Christian image of man” will bring a “revival of the Eternal City and all of Italy.”
Cardinal Müller then held up a Rosary and said that a politician who “symbolically holds up the Rosary is more to be trusted than one who literally takes down the Cross of Christ.” His words referred to a controversy last year when Italy’s former deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, often displayed a rosary during public speeches to show his Catholic identity, and proposed making it obligatory for crucifixes to be displayed in public spaces.
Salvini was strongly criticized by papal aide Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, who tweeted that the “cross is a sign of protest against sin, violence, injustice and death” and “never a sign of identity.” Father Spadaro also denounced the use of the Rosary in what he saw as political campaigning.
Cardinal Reinhard Marx, president of the German bishops’ conference, also opposed similar proposals to make it mandatory for crucifixes to be displayed in the entrance of all Bavarian public buildings in May 2018, earning Cardinal Marx opprobrium from some Church leaders.
Cardinal Müller has expressed sympathy for Salvini in the past, saying last year it is better to talk with him and noting it was “curious that the Pope has received the most secularist people, and not Salvini.” One must “speak with everyone in a spirit of fraternity,” he said.
In his homily, Cardinal Müller noted that neo-paganism “denies that each man is created in the likeness of God and therefore neo-paganism is hostile toward life.”
He added that the political ideologies of right and left “are not what counts” to a Christian who is not seduced by “neo-pagan natural religions,” or atheistic “neo-liberal and neo-Marxist” ideologies.
“A mature Catholic is not in need of instructions as to which democratic politician he may elect or not,” he explained. “He who believes in God, knows only one Commandment: the love of God and of neighbor.”
The cardinal closed by stressing that Italy and Europe have a future only through a “renewal” of faith in Jesus Christ and “in the Sign of His Cross.”
He called on St. Agnes to pray to the Lord “for your Romans, for Catholic Italy, and for a Christian Europe. Amen”.

Best Deal on a Cultural Event
Many of Rome’s most stunning churches and palazzi are regularly the sites of free or low-price classical music performances. Among the best of these is the concert series in the Borromini Sacristy of the Sant’Agnese in Agone church in the Piazza Navona. There, every Sunday, you can enjoy music by the likes of Haydn, Chopin, Schumann or Mozart….
Brian Wingfield, 23 Aprile 2006

Sant’Agnese in Agone – Swing by Pieranunzi brings poetry to jazz
Enrico Pieranunzi is a pianist who swings with energy and originality, constantly creating musical poetry. Pieranunzi, one of Italy’s most active and eclectic jazz-men, will be in concert for one night only at the Basilica of Sant’Agnese in Piazza Navona as part of the ‘Concerts in the Borromini Sacristy’ series. The evening is dedicated to the themes of his recent album, ‘With Infinite Voices”…

Felice Liperi, 3 December 2006

… The Piazza Navona Music Association launches a new concert series in the sacristy of the splendid Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone, designed by Borromini. The location: Piazza Navona, opposite Bernini’s famous fountain. The programme follows on the success of the previous season…


Brodsky’s violin at Sant’Agnese

… Borromini was responsible not only the Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone, but also its spectacular sacristy. For several seasons, the sacristy has been the site for Sunday concerts. Today the Piazza Navona Music Association launches its new season with the famous Russian violinist, Vadim Brodsky…

 Landa Ketoff, 31 October 2004

Sonata for a Baron, signed Beethoven: After the success of its previous concert season, the Piazza Navona Music Association this week launches a new series at the Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone. The scene for these events is the splendid sacristy by Borromini, on Piazza Navona opposite Bernini’s fountain…

Landa Ketoff, 2 November 2003

A young pianist for a Sunday concert

The Church of Sant’Agnese ‘in Agone’ offers the backdrop to the already stunning setting of Piazza Navona, where the ‘agone’ games were one held, and where the young Saint Agnes faced death. The edifice is one of Borromini’s masterpieces, and within this is the sacristy: the scene for a series of Sunday concerts running to 30 March…

Landa Ketoff, 5 March 2003

Baroque to Jazz: Concerts in Piazza Navona
Borromini’s precious sacristy next to the Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone is one of Rome’s most beautiful ‘salons’, and certainly the most welcoming for music. Girolamo Rainaldi’s original plans for the church were refined and developed by the genius of Borromini. For the past five years the ‘Borromini sacristy’ has hosted the Music in Piazza Navona concert series, welcomed by both local and visiting enthusiasts. The new season opens on Sunday evening with the Abruzzo Symphonic Orchestra directed by Vittorio Antonellini. On the program is a sampling of Mozart, from the youthful Symphony K129 and the Concert for Flute to the great Sinfonia Concertante for Violin, Viola and Orchestra (K364, 320d).

The programme of Sunday concerts (weekly, 5:00 p.m.) continues on 22 October with the North European Voices, singing the harmonies of the Icelandic composers Grieg and Sibelius; a jazz evening with the Gwis-Pirozzi duo on 29 October; a programme with the renowned Caiolo-De Zan duo, ranging from Mozart to Stravinsky (5 November); the pianist Antonio Di Cristofano playing Schumann and Brahms (12 November). The Romabarocca Ensemble arrives on 19 November, with counter-tenor Mario Bassani and Russian soprano Alla Gof (recently in Galuppi’s Didone Abbandonata at the Spoleto Opera) in a 1700s repertoire ranging from Vivaldi to Albinoni, Lotti and Handel. The Trio Parsifal arrives just before the holiday season, on 26 November, followed by the excellent jazz pianist Enrico Pieranunzi on December 3. The season closes out with ‘Opera in Salon’, on December 25, immediately followed by pianist Giuseppe Tabanti and saxophonist Enzo Filippetti on December 26, and finally the New Year’s concert with the Zurletti-Novarino cello and piano duo.
Lorenzo Tozzi, 14 October 2006

… Rome offers enviable settings for great music. Settings so fine that it impossible to decide which is more beautiful: the music or the hall. One of the places that melds perfectly with song is the Borromini Sacristy of the Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone, where a new current concert series is now starting…

Today’s appointment: Concert in the Sacristy
Sunday 5:30 p.m, as part of the concert series in Borromini’s sacristy at Sant’Agnese in Agone, the 2004 Academy of Santa Cecilia prize-winning violinist, Rodolfo Bonucci…

21 January 2005

Piano duo at Sant’Agnese in Agone

The breath-taking spaces of the Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone, Piazza Navona, create the ideal setting for a fabulous musical performance by the Brusco-Scolastra piano duo, this evening at 5:30 p.m. The sacristy, designed by Borromini…

2 January 2005

Chamber music in the Borromini sacristy
Along with the architectural marvels of Bernini’s Fountain of the Rivers and Borromini’s Church of Sant’Agnese, Piazza Navona is the scene for magnificent music, set in the Sant’Agnese sacristy, also designed by Borromini. Every Sunday morning, different young musicians ….
Lorenzo Tozzi 23 February 2003

Musical tour among churches, basilicas, piazzas and theatres

The Sunday morning concert series at Sant’Agnese in Agone runs for the rest of May and the entire month of June: matinee performances in the Borromini sacristy, with the flute and harp duo of Pamela Sensi and Katia Catarci, performing Mozart, Dallapiccola, Massenet, Bizet …

18 May 2003

… The series headlines some of Rome’s leading classical musicians – Vadim Brodsky, in a solo violin recital; the violin-piano duo of Felix Ayo and Lya de Barberiis (student of Casella, concerts with Gavazzeni, Maazel…)

Sant’Agnese in Agone: Concerts in the Sacristy
… the delight of visiting one of Italy’s greatest baroque treasures – the sacristy of Sant’Agnese ‒ while listing to superb chamber music. The sacristy is the scene for a series of concerts organised by the Pizza Navona Music Association, Sunday evenings at 6 p.m…
Marina Tomarro

Classics to jazz: musical afternoons

Today’s event is one of the highlights of the ‘Music at Piazza Navona’ concert series, set in the splendour of the Borromini Sacristy of the Church of Sant’Agnese. The artists are the violin-piano duo of Felix Ayo and Lya de Barberiis ‒ two greats of the Roman music scene. Ayo, a member of the Academy of Santa Cecilia, is one of the founders of the prestigious ‘Quartetto Beethoven’, one of Italy’s top piano quartets, and of the famed ‘I Musici’ chamber orchestra; De Barberiis, a student of Casella, has headlined concerts with Italy’s important orchestras and performed with acclaimed conductors such as Giannandrea Gavazzeni and Lorin Maazel. The duo presents two classics from the violin and piano chamber repertory: Beethoven’s Spring Sonata and Cèsar Frank’s Sonata in A major…

Alfredo Gasponi, 1 May 2005

The Piazza Navona Music Association spring series brings us distinguished artists such as Vadim Brodksy, in a solo violin recital, the violinist Felix Ayo and pianist Lya de Barberiis (student of Casella, concerts with Gavazzeni, Maazel…), two greats of the Italian music scene. Ayo and de Barberiis perform as a duo, offering Beethoven’s Spring Sonata and Franck’s Sonata in A major…. Opening night is today, 5:30 p.m., in the splendid setting of the Borromini sacristy of the Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone. On tap for tonight is the young Avellino pianist Gianluca Di Donato, student of Aldo Ciccolini, playing music from Beethoven.

‘Music at Piazza Navona’ covers genres from the classics of Beethoven and Mahler to Strauss’s lieders, Piazzolla tangos, and Neapolitan romantics scored by Rossini, Leoncavallo and Donizetti…
Alfredo Gasponi, 10 April 2005

Music at Piazza Navona – opening night with Tchaikovsky
The Music at Piazza Navona programme continues to grow, this year adding well-known and accomplished artists while continuing to feature exciting new musicians. As always, the setting is the unique sacristy designed by Borromini next to the Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone. The season opens this evening at 5:30, with the pairing of the distinguished Russian violinist Vadim Brodsky and young pianist Sebastiano Brusco. Brodksy is the nephew of the original performer of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D, a former student of David Oistrach and winner of the Wienawski Medal…. Other headliners include Elio Pandolfi in an evening of operetta, the pianist Riccardo Gregoratti, the Bernini Quartet,…

Alfredo Gasponi, 30 October 2004