Santa Maria in Monserrat of the Spaniards
is a 16th and 17th century national and titular church, named after the Abbey of Montserrat
in Catalonia, Spain. It is on Via Giulia in the rione Regola; the entrance is on the Via di Montserrat. The dedication is to the Blessed Virgin Mary, under her special title of Our Lady of Montserrat.This is the national church for expatriates from the Kingdom of Spain. However, its history derives from what is now Catalonia.
The expatriates from the old Kingdom of Aragon had formed a confraternity to run their hospice. They determined to build a new church dedicated to Our Lady of Montserrat. Construction started in 1518, led by Antonio Sangallo the Younger
. The church was not completed for more than a century later. Francesco Capriani
da Volterra provided the first storey of the façade. Then work stopped here, with the façade unfinished. The high altar was only consecrated in 1594 and the nave vault installed in 1598.
The confraternity rebuilt the apse and the provision of a new high altar in 1675, which was done by Giovanni Battista Contini
. The confraternity was able to attract funds to furnish the six side chapels by granting them to rich private benefactors as funerary chapels.
As soon as the French took control in Rome in 1798, the confraternity was dispossessed and the church closed together with San Giacomo degli Spagnoli, the Spanish church on Pizza Navona. After the Papal government returned in 1815 the Spanish had two churches in bad repair. They decided to concentrate on this one. San Giacomo was stripped and abandoned, some of its artworks being brought here and others shipped to Spain.
This church was given a thorough restoration from 1818 to 1821, and a new high altar was consecrated in 1822. The architects were Giuseppe Camporese
and his son Pietro Camporese the Younger
. In 1926, the façade was finally given its second storey by Salvatore Rebecchini
. The church remains the National Church of Spain.