The Academy’s church of Saint Luca and Martina was built starting in 1635 following Pietro Berettini da Cortona’s project. The sacred edifice was built ex novo where the first title of Saint Martina once had rights. These rights had been conceded in 1588 by Sustus V to the University of Painters of Saint Luca. The land was between the Fori Imperiali and the Foro Romano, near the Campidoglio, in the relatively under-populated area called Pantani. The church, established on the remains of the ancient Secretarium Senatus, in front of the arc of Septimus Severus, leans on the “botteghe” of the Foro di Cesare and was dedicated to the Saints Luca and Martina after the University moved in. From the 1590s onward, many projects and adaptations were planned and carried out, perhaps under Francesco da Volterra and Ottaviano Mascherino.
Its integral reconstruction began in 1635, due to both the “miraculous” finding of Martina’s relics and the growing interest in the project of the prince of the Academy, the painter-architect Pietro da Cortona, who had already acquired from the pope Urbano VIII the right to restore, at his own expenses, the funeral chapel of Santa Martina in the inferior church, richly decorated in polychrome marble, is dedicated to Saint Martina, whose relics are conserved in the main altar. Pietro da Cortona’s project gave the building the appearance it has today: a Greek cross plan with a dome at the intersection of the two main wings. Theconstruction was interrupted several times and was considered concluded only in 1679; the altars and of the interior decorations were completed between the XVII and the XIX centuries. The main body of the church’s was made independent from the nearby Academy’s seat in 1932, after over three centuries,by the opening of Via dell’Impero under Mussolini’s dictatorship. Gustavo Giovannoni is responsible for the redefining of the lateral and apsal sides of the church dedicates to San Luca; the main facade with the entrance is the original one designed by Pietro da Cortona. The superior church of San Luca, open for religious rites, is own by the Academy of Saint Luca, while the church of Saint Martina os own by the Conservatory of Saint Eufemia, which recived it in accordance to Pietro da Cortona’s dispositions in his will. The inferior church can be visited by appointment. For information contact Mr. Francesco Taddei of The National Academy of Saint Luca.