After being worked on for two years, inside and out, the 17th century monumental complex of the Friary and Church of San Giacomo alla Lungara in Rome is shining once again.
This large property consists of three parts: a friary, a church and a bell tower. It is located in Rome’s historic center in the Trastevere district, between Lungotevere Farnesina and Via della Lungara.
The friary is a three-story building with large interior spaces. It houses the religious community of the Friars Minor Conventual and has a large terrace which looks out on the Janiculum and the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. The church of San Giacomo alla Lungara was built between 1640 and 1645 by Cardinal Francesco Barberini. It is a single nave church with a large altar canvas depicting the Apostle James the Major, the patron saint of the church. There is also a funerary monument by Bernini called the Memorial to Hippolytus Merenda. Outside on the Lungotevere, stands a large bell tower built by the Silvestrini Fathers around 1250. It is Rome’s only example of a, single-lancet window, Romanesque bell tower.
The restoration and retrofitting of the entire property (the Tiber side and the Lungara side) began in May of 2017, and ended a few days ago. The project was launched on the initiative of the Guardian, Friar Renzo DEGNI, with the advice of Friar Vittorio TRANI and was conducted under the supervision of architect Angelo MATTIA. This two-year effort was funded with advertising proceeds contracted with the Vivendi company. Several works were performed inside the friary, which were considered urgent due to the precarious condition of certain spaces. The outer walls and windows on all four sides of the building were also restored. Moreover, the facade of the church was improved by the restoration of the pediment and capitals and the removal of some weeds.
Some works inside the church are still waiting to be done, namely, the planned restoration of the painting of the Apostle James the Major.
Today, the friary houses nine friars who perform various pastoral services: two friars are in charge of chaplaincy at Rome’s Regina Coeli prison. They manage the “Volunteers of Regina Coeli” (VO. RE.CO.) center and the “Dads’ House” on Via Santa Dorotea, Trastevere, where accommodations are made available, free of charge, to the fathers of children with serious clinical problems who have been admitted to Bambino Gesù Hospital in Rome. Two other friars are in charge of pastoral ministry at the parish of Santa Dorotea in Trastevere. The rest of the friars are engaged in various other ministries: teaching, spiritual assistance, serving as the friary econom and serving as the rector of the church of San Giacomo.
There is also a young friar from the Provincial Custody of St. Bonaventure in Brazil (Friar Romario), who is staying with the community while he attends a course in biblical theology at the Pontifical Urban University.
Friar Paolo FIASCONARO – Chronicler
Photos: The St. James complex during and after the restoration work.