"The heavens opened. 𝐄l Greco in 𝐑𝐨𝐦e", until 5 October at the church of Sant’Agnese in Agone

07 September 2023


The El Greco Exhibition was officially inaugurated yesterday in the church in Piazza Navona, in the presence of Archbishop Rino Fisichella, Pro-Prefect of the Dicastery for Evangelization, Monsignor Paolo Schiavon, rector of the church of Sant'Agnese, Donna María Isabel Celaá Diéguez, Ambassador of Spain to the Holy See, Miguel Gotor, Convener for Culture of the City of Rome and Fr Alessio Geretti, the curator of the exhibition. “I hope that those who come to visit these works of art,” said Archbishop Fisichella, “are ready for the silence of contemplation, and that they can see how a man touched by God, El Greco, lived the experience of faith by putting it at the service of all humanity through his artistic work." Art and beauty, therefore, can be tools of evangelization, he said, so that "the tourist can also become a pilgrim and herald of hope."

El Greco, who was born on the island of Crete in 1541, and died in Toledo in Spain in 1614, was one of the iconic artists of the Spanish Renaissance and lived in Rome for six years. “El Greco would be proud,” said Donna María Isabel Celaá Diéguez, Spanish Ambassador to the Holy See, “that three of his masterpieces were being exhibited in one of the most beautiful and important churches in Rome, in preparation for the Holy Year.” The church of Sant'Agnese in Agone stands right on the site of the martyrdom of the Roman saint. “Sant'Agnese is a beautiful setting for this wonderful initiative,” underlined Mons. Paolo Schiavon, the rector of the church. “I thank the Dicastery for choosing this place to invite those who enter to look at ‘the heavens opened’, and thus strengthen the invitation to transcendence," he added.

Sant'Agnese welcomes thousands of tourists every day. “This is the best possible location for El Greco's exhibition, which almost seems as if it had been born here, such is the continuity of the color spectrum of the works,” explained Fr Alessio Geretti, the curator of the exhibition. “Today we hopefully open a ‘first door’ allowing the artist to enchant us with his extremely evocative painting."

This is the first time the three masterpieces on display have been allowed to leave Spain. They are: The Holy Family with Saint Anne (Toledo, Hospital de Tavera), The Baptism of Christ (Toledo, Hospital de Tavera), and Christ Carrying the Cross (El Bonillo, Museo Paroquial). “It's lovely to start with El Greco, who was a man of contradiction and modernity, a painter of the earth and the heavens who had an almost mystical narrative ability,” said Miguel Gotor, Convener for Culture of the City of Rome.  He added: “What we are putting in place, working together, is an extraordinary effort to seize the opportunities offered by the 2025 Jubilee, through a program of protection, promotion, and urban regeneration. Over 30 million pilgrims are expected to come to Rome for the Holy Year, and it is essential that there be a joint synergy between the Holy See, the Municipality of Rome and the Italian Government. Our city must be a city of welcome and fraternity."

The exhibition will be open to visitors every day from 9am to 9pm.