Between Faith and Reason: New Light on St. Ivo alla Sapienza – Reflections on a Generative Hypothesis

Between Faith and Reason: New Light on St. Ivo alla Sapienza – Reflections on a Generative Hypothesis

Luca Ribichini (Sapienza University of Rome, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0675-1.ch014


About the church of Sant' Ivo alla Sapienza, masterpiece of Borromini, it has been said: it was stressed above all its oddness, eccentricity, which critics have always led back to the essence of the Baroque, without examining the possible links that bind their characteristic elements of this building. So, proceeding abduction and venturing to approach sources also apparently alien to each other, it is possible to formulate a thesis: Sant'Ivo is a poem in stone dedicated to Wisdom. Borromini may have scope to create a consideration of Dante's Divine Comedy, and specifically the third poem dedicated to Paradise and to meet God; and at the same time to draw up a formal summary of the binomial reason / faith, so long discussed the dawn of Christianity. The survey chase the poetic and literary references, and found correspondence with indisputable texts of Dionysius the Areopagite, Dante and Boethius. A thesis deeply innovative than the critical pre-existing, that opens new research and an integral vision of this highly consistent “bizarre” building.
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Severinus Boethius, Pseudo-Dionysius The Areopagite, Dante Alighieri: Three Possible References

Even though our knowledge of the famous library of Francesco Borromini (Portoghesi, 2014) is still rather limited, we are quite cognizant of his vast interests in culture. In my opinion, we can legitimately indicate three possible sources of inspiration for the architecture of St. Ivo, three texts fundamental for medieval theological culture and philosophy: Severinus Boethius' De consolatione philosophiae, De coelesti hierarchia of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite and Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy. Let me review them individually.

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