Estasi della beata Ludovica Albertoni,c.1671-74. (Detail). Marble. Church of San Francesco a Ripa, Trastevere, Rome. Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680). One of the leading men who introduced the Baroque architecture, he was also the leading sculptor of his time, receiving numerous and highly relevant commissions, many of which were to be in the cultural context of the papacy and its closer circle.
Ludovica Albertoni (lived in Rome from 1474 to 1533) was born to a wealthy and distinguished family, and married to Giacomo de Citara. Mother of three, and widowed since 1506. As a Franciscan tertiary, she spent her fortune caring for the poor. She was renowned for her religious ecstasies, and became known as a miracle worker –legend has it that she had the gift of levitation. Pope Clemente X beatified Ludovica Albertoni in 1671, being the construction of a monument to her memory by the master sculptor (now quite old) Gian Lorenzo Bernini (simultaneously a complete renovation of the church by Mattia de' Rossi, a pupil of Bernini took place). Though the Franciscans were in favour of simple sepulchers, it was beyond their power to obstruct the desire of Gaspare P. Albertoni Altieri –Pope Clement IX’s niece’s husband– to dedicate an altar in the private chapel of San Francesco for the Blessed Ludovica Albertoni. (The papal family, the Rospigliosi was one of a small group of families original from Toscana who came to Rome). The Christian topic of “ecstasy” is dealt with in Bernini’s superb work; a theme already seen in another work, the Estasi di santa Teresa d’Avila (1652). The figure of the blessed is lying on a bed finely embroidered in marble and resting on a jasper block worked like a drapery, which is placed unconventionally on the altar of the chapel.
Jesús Lorenzo Vieites