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Official We Site: Chiesa di Santa Maria di Piazza
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The Church of Santa Maria di Piazza stands in the historic center of Turin, not far from Via Cernaia and the Lamarmora Gardens. The church has ancient origins, with some medieval documents indicating that there was already a church dedicated to Sancta Maria de Platea in 1080, likely named for its proximity to the ancient Roman forum. It has been proclaimed a National Monument and holds the title of Sanctuary.

The Church and the Carmelites

In 1552, the church was entrusted to the Barefoot Carmelite Fathers. In 1636, it became the headquarters of the Company of Minutieri, and later it also hosted the Company of Hosts and the Company of Shoemakers.

Initially, however, the management by the Carmelites deviated from the religious rigor we might imagine for that time. In 1553, Cesare Vibo wrote about:

Endless wars, creeping and flourishing heresy, and moral depravity were at that time the cause of many evils.

Cesare Vibo

To remedy the situation, which was now completely out of control, at the beginning of the 17th century, the infantas Maria and Caterina di Savoia initiated reforms to restore the church’s good name.

Church of Santa Maria di Piazza
Church of Santa Maria di Piazza

By reestablishing practices more consistent with the religious order, the Carmelite community gradually expanded. To meet the new space requirements, expansion work was undertaken in the structure in 1580. However, further space constraints forced the Carmelites to leave the church and move to larger premises near the Porta Segusina in 1729. Two years later, the church became a diocesan parish, and a complete reconstruction was decided upon.

The new Church of Santa Maria di Piazza

The new Church of Santa Maria di Piazza was entrusted to Bernardo Vittone, who conceived what is considered one of his most important masterpieces. In 1751, the presbytery was completed, and the following year, the elliptical nave was constructed. The church was ultimately consecrated in 1768 by the Archbishop of Turin.

Church of Santa Maria di Piazza
Church of Santa Maria di Piazza

In 1830, Barnaba Panizza designed the facade, and in 1890, additional expansion work led to the creation of two side chapels.

Starting in the 18th century, the Church of Santa Maria di Piazza hosted various corporations. First, the Order of the Most Holy Trinity, followed by the Company of the Most Holy Viaticum, and finally, the Company of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In the 1800s, it was the headquarters of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. Finally, in 1901, the church became a Sanctuary of Eucharistic Adoration and was entrusted to the Sacramentini Fathers.

Bernardo Vittone’s true masterpiece lies in his skillful use of light. The dome features illuminated lunettes, as does the vault covering the nave.

Assumption of the Virgin by Pier Francesco Guala

Inside the church, you’ll find interesting and finely crafted works of art. The first chapel on the left is dedicated to the Masters of Minutieri, while the second altar houses the Madonna delle Grazie, an icon brought to Turin in 1550.

Also noteworthy is the altar painting by Pier Francesco Guala, titled “Assumption of the Virgin”, which was removed by the Sacramentini Fathers to create a new Altar of the Holy Sacrament and is now preserved in a room next to the church.

Finally, in 1924, a decorative restoration took place, and an organ was installed. Following the heavy bombings of 1942, which severely damaged the entire structure, further extensive restoration was necessary after the war.