The chapel was built in 1749 as can be observed on the escutcheon embellishing the entrance.1 Its design is attributed to the architect Andrea Belli (1703-1772). Pietro Infante of Portugal, Grand Prior of Crato, was responsible for funding the building of this chapel.
The chapel was dedicated to Our Lady of Manresa by Padre Pier Francesco Rosignoli, commemorating the event when St Ignatius experienced visions of Our Lady during his spiritual retreat in 1522-23 in a grotto at Manresa in Spain and where he wrote great part of his Spiritual Exercises.2
The chapel is designed on an oval plan, having the main altar recessed beyond the oval outline. The recessed altar interrupts the entablature and is enhanced with an arch above the mentioned entablature. The architect was probably influenced by Francesco de Volterra’s chapel of San Giacomo degli Incurabili, in Rome for the plan of this chapel.
The fluidity of the decoration and scenographic treatment of the main altar recalls the work of Cosmas Damian Assam’s church at the abbey in Weltenburg, Bavaria, and other chapels of the 18th century in the regions of Austria and Bavaria.3
Author: Melanie Farrugia