Holy Relics: The tissue of the 16th century Italian priest Philip Neri, "The Apostle of Rome" surrounding his expanding heart (Santa Maria in Vallicella or Chiesa Nuova Church, Rome)

The Bizarrely Beautiful World of Relics in Religious History

Holy Relics: The tissue of the 16th century Italian priest Philip Neri, "The Apostle of Rome" surrounding his expanding heart (Santa Maria in Vallicella or Chiesa Nuova Church, Rome)

The tomb of St. Philip Neri in the church of Santa Maria in Vallicella, commonly called Chiesa Nuova.

The tomb of St. Philip Neri in the church of Santa Maria in Vallicella, commonly called Chiesa Nuova.

Pieter Paul Rubens. 1606-08. Oil on slate. It covers and protects an ancient icon. On Sundays and Solemnities, the painting of Our lady by Rubens slides away by means of a hidden mechanism, revealing beneath the ancient icon.

Pieter Paul Rubens. 1606-08. Oil on slate. It covers and protects an ancient icon. On Sundays and Solemnities, the painting of Our lady by Rubens slides away by means of a hidden mechanism, revealing beneath the ancient icon.

First version by Rubens for the main altar. Oil on canvas. Rejected. St. Gregory. Musée de Grenoble.

First version by Rubens for the main altar. Oil on canvas. Rejected. St. Gregory. Musée de Grenoble.

Federico Barocci - The Visitation. 1583-86. Santa Maria in Vallicella (Chiesa Nuova), Rome.

Federico Barocci - The Visitation. 1583-86. Santa Maria in Vallicella (Chiesa Nuova), Rome.

Ancient icon and venerated image. At the request of St. Philip, the painting was transported to the interior of the still unfinished Chiesa Nuova. The icon was placed in the Chapel of the Purification until the work on the main altar and the paintings by Rubens were completed. The emblem of the Congregation founded by San Filippo Neri.

Ancient icon and venerated image. At the request of St. Philip, the painting was transported to the interior of the still unfinished Chiesa Nuova. The icon was placed in the Chapel of the Purification until the work on the main altar and the paintings by Rubens were completed. The emblem of the Congregation founded by San Filippo Neri.

Rubens (photo by Paul Hermans). Left side on the altar. Saint Domitilla between SS. Nereus and Achilleus.

Rubens (photo by Paul Hermans). Left side on the altar. Saint Domitilla between SS. Nereus and Achilleus.

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