The Maddalena

One of my favourite Churches in Rome is the Maddalena, the only genuinely rococo Church in the City. The Church itself was built between 1669 and 1698 by Carlo Fontana and GC Quadrio but the rococo facade was not finished until 1735.

Below is a view of the interior of the Church:

At the back of the Church, there is an exuberantly decorated organ:

In the facade of the Church is a clue to its association with St Camillus de Lellis. The text "O Crux Ave..." is from the Vexilla Regis, a hymn in honour of the Holy Cross. ("O hail the Cross, our only hope, add grace to those who are devout")

St Camillus fought for the Venetians against the Turks. In the army, he became an inveterate gambler. In between campaigns, he was dismissed from his work in the hospital for his gambling and general troublemaking. Later, he returned to Rome and benefited from the spiritual direction of St Philip Neri. He studied, became a priest and founded a new order, the Fathers of a Good Death, devoted especially to those suffering from the plague. The cross pictured here is important:

From this cross, our Lord spoke to St Camillus "Why are you afraid? Do you not realise that this is not your work but mine?" Camillus was canonised by Pope Benedict XIV in 1746 and his body is under the High Altar of the Maddalena, built next to the hospital where he worked.

For many years, the Camillan Fathers worked particularly with those suffering from leprosy. More recently, they have worked especially with those suffering from HIV/AIDS. In Thailand, after the Government's 100% condom use policy had caused the number of HIV/AIDS cases to rise dramatically (in contrast to the Philippines which promoted fidelity), the Camillan Fathers were asked to help with the care of the victims of this tragically misguided approach.

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