The history of the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore is closely linked to that of the Jesuit congregation of Trieste.
In 1619, two Jesuits, Giuseppe Mezler and Gregorio Salateo, arrived in Trieste. Thanks to its good relationship with the government of the time, the Jesuit order developed rapidly.
The congregation commissioned the construction of a school, which is now located next to the current Church of Santa Maria Maggiore. Shortly after, it was decided to build the church, dedicated to the Madonna, which became the largest church in the city at that time.
The first stone was laid on October 10, 1627, by the bishop Rinaldo Scarlicchio. However, the completion of the church took decades.
When the church was consecrated on October 11, 1682, by the bishop Giacomo Ferdinando Gorizutti, the roof of the building was still partially uncovered. In November of the same year, the church’s wooden dome was destroyed by a fire that broke out in a nearby oil mill.
When the Jesuit order was dissolved in 1773, the church had not yet been completed. The church dome, two altars and other elements inside the church were missing. The dome was only completed in 1817.
The facade of the building, completed around 1701, is probably the work of the Jesuit Andrea Pozzo. It is assumed that Giacomo Briani, a Jesuit from Modena, was responsible for a considerable part of the interior design.
The monumental facade of the church, built in Baroque style, is divided by groups of pilaster strips surmounted by capitals of Ionic order, with a broken tympanum on top. The interior of the church is divided in three naves by large pillars of Composite order.
The main altar, built between 1672 and 1717, is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. On both sides of the tabernacle are the marble statues of Saints Ignazio di Loyola, Luigi Gonzaga, Francesco Borgia and Francesco Saverio. Behind the altar, there is a representation of the Immaculate Conception.
HOW TO GET THERE
The Church of Santa Maria Maggiore is located about 1.2 kilometers from Trieste Centrale railway station. The closest bus stop is in Via Armando Diaz 1/d, about 270 meters away, on the bus Line 24.