The Ponte Sant’ Angelo bridge in Rome, Italy is one of of the most important bridges in the city for many reasons ,but the main one is that is connects the city of Rome to the home of Catholicism, Vatican City, and for hundreds of years religious pilgrims traveled across this bridge into the Vatican. In the Baroque era Pope Clement IX, wanted to beauty this bridge so he commissioned Bernini in 1667 to decorate this bridge with ten sculptures of angels that would be telling the story of the Passion of Christ ,and to guide religious pilgrims on their lofty quest across Rome and into the Vatican.
Bernini was the main designer of the pieces, but he only created two of the angels, the Angel carrying the Superscription and the Angel with the Crown of Thorns. The other eight angels were created by his assistants. All the artists were given drawing by Bernini, of what the statues should look like, but each artist created the piece differently depending on their thoughts of what an angel should look like and their varying artistic skill. Bernini choose angels for this piece because in the Old Testament, angels were messengers from God. These statues would show visitors and locals of Rome the events of Christ’s last days from the trial in Jerusalem, through his death, and burial. The angels were placed in a zigzag line across the bridge telling this story.
First is the Angel Carrying the Superscription, the eight statue on the bridge, that is holding the NRI sign that was attached to the cross that stands for the Latin phrase “Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews.” The artistry of the piece is incredible, with the realistic flesh and draping , the clothing with correct folds and textures of fabric, the wings so expertly carved they look like real feathers, etc. Second is the Angel Carrying the Crown of Thorns, that is third on the bridge ,and is holding the crown of thorns that was placed on Jesus’ head before he died. This statue shows a great passion and intensity especially in the expression of grief on the angels face. Both of these statues were created by Bernini, but Pope Clement IX loved them so much that he refused to have them out in the weather so the originals were placed in the church of Sant’ Andrea della Frate, and copies were made by one of Bernini’s assistants , Giulio Cartoni, and placed on the bridge.
The third angel and the first on the bridge, in the Angel carrying the Column, that was created by Antonio Raggi,one of Bernini’s most trusted assistants that had worked with him on the Foundation of Four Rives and other artworks. The large stone column held by the angel is symbolic of the flagellation of Jesus. Fourth and second on the bridge, is the Angel Carrying the Scourge, created by Lazzano Morelli. The scouge is a long, thickly braided leather whip used by the Roman soldiers to whip Christ.
Fifth and fourth along the bridge, is the Angel Carrying the Sudarium, created by Cosimo Fancelli who had worked with Bernini on the Four Rivers sculpture. The Sudarium is a cloth, later thought to be a holy relic because it was used to clean the blood and sweat off Christ’s face as he carried the cross. Sixth and fifth on the bridge, is the Angel Carrying the Garment and Dice, carved by Palolo Naldini. The cloth and dice symbolize when the Roman soldiers rolled dice to see who would win Christ’s clothing. The seventh and sixth on the bridge is the Angel Carrying the Cross, created by Ercole Ferato who worked with Bernini on the Chigi Chapel. The cross is an important symbol of Christianity and of Christ.
Eighth and seventh on the bridge, is the Angel with the Nails, carved by Girolamo Lucenti. This angel is holding square nails that are symbols of the nails used to attach Jesus to the cross. Ninth and eighth on the bridge, is the Angel Carrying the Sponge,carved by a young Italian artist, Antonio Giogetti. After Jesus was placed on the cross, a solider soaked a sponge in sour wine and placed it on the end of a stick and gave to Jesus to drink. The final statue is the Angel Carrying the Lance, made by Domenico Guidi. The lance is the weapon that was used to pierce Christ’s side going through his heart, killing him. Finally, my opinion of the artworks is that they are very beautiful and showcase the talents of variety of artists.
Nicole Dacales. “The Ponte Sant’ Angelo.” GianLorenzo Bernini. University of Mary Washington. 2013. Web. 04 Nov. 2013.
Nicole Dacales. “The Ponte Sant’Angelo: Angels of the Ponte Sant’Angelo.” GianLorenzo Bernini. University of Mary Washington. 2013. Web. 04 Nov. 2013.
Nicole Dacales. “The Ponte Sant’ Angelo: Bernini’s Project.” GianLorenzo Bernini. University of Mary Washington. 2013. Web. 04 Nov. 2013.