Piazza di Pasquino
Piazza di Pasquino takes its name from the most famous “talking” statue in Rome.
The statue of Pasquino, leaning against the corner of Palazzo Braschi.
In the past this square was called “Piazza di Parione” and was frequented by booksellers, writers and artists, so much so that it also had the name “Piazza dei Librai”.
Pasquino is a fragment of an ancient Hellenistic statuary group, probably depicting Menelaus holding up the body of dying Patroclus, struck by Hector in the Trojan war.
Cardinal Oliviero Carafa had bought from the Orsini the building that stood where Palazzo Braschi is today and had worked to fix the square, paving the bottom.
So, in the middle of the works, in 1501 this ancient marble group was pulled out of the mud which the cardinal had placed on the corner of his palace, placed on a pedestal.
On the origin of the name Pasquino there are different interpretations: those who want it referred to a host, some to a barber, some to a school teacher and some still to a cobbler, all, logically,
It probably started by chance to be used to expose stinging anonymous satires towards anyone, but over time it “specialized” in fierce political satires, mostly aimed at the pontiff or, in any case, towards the characters in view of the time, so much so that this genre of “messaging” was called “pasquinata”.
For this reason the statue ran the risk of being destroyed several times.
Pasquino was part of the “congrega degli arguti”, as the association between Pasquino and the other “talking statues” of Rome was called: Marforio, Madama Lucrezia, Abbot Luigi, Facchino and Babuino.
The penalties for those guilty of “pasquinate” were very severe and went up to the death penalty.
Many are the “pasquinas” that have come down to us.
Even today there has been no shortage of “pasquinas”: when Rome was covered with cardboard and plaster to welcome the powerful head of Nazi Germany, Hitler, Pasquino ruled: “Povera Roma mia de travertino! / They dressed you all in cardboard / pè done rimirà da ‘n’imbianchino “.
Opposite the statue of Pasquino is the Church of the Nativity of Jesus, officiated by the Company of the Nativity, a pious association that prayed for the agonizing and condemned to death.
Here the Blessed Sacrament was exposed in the imminent execution of a death sentence and the faithful were warned that they would take advantage of the plenary indulgence for themselves and for the condemned.
Furthermore, tradition has it that the bands that enveloped Jesus are preserved here.
The church was built at the end of the seventeenth century but the current appearance is the result of various restorations, the last of which dates back to 1862, At number 71 of the square there is a house with two windows per floor, whose events are remembered by a plaque.
The building was owned by Giovanni Antonio Alessandri from Cremona, who had enriched himself with the goldsmith’s work and when a fire destroyed his house, he spared no expense by rebuilding it faithfully, as the plaque on the building says.