Barberini Bees and Bernini: a Roman story

Celebrating the Barberini Bees in Rome.

The Barberini household, an aristocratic Italian dynasty, attained monumental riches, energy and affect in Seventeenth-century Rome, peaking with the election of Cardinal Maffeo Barberini as Pope City VIII in 1623. 

The 2-decade lengthy preach of the brand new Barberini pope – a passionate patron of the humanities – was marked by ecclesiastical, diplomatic and cultural triumphs.

Bees at Palazzo Barberini

His reign was additionally overshadowed by nepotism and the pillaging of historic Roman monuments, resulting in the expression ‘Quod non fecerunt barbari, fecerunt Barberini‘ (What the barbarians didn’t do, the Barberini did).

City VIII spared no expense in adorning the household’s new city palace, Palazzo Barberini, accomplished in 1633 and designed by three nice architects in succession: Carlo Maderno, Francesco Borromini and Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

Element of the Fountain of the Bees

The Barberini palaces, church buildings and fountains had been all adorned with the household’s coat of arms – an iconic picture of three bees – as a visible reminder of their energy and patronage in Baroque Rome.

Pope City VIII tasked Bernini with “stamping” his commissions with the household crest, notably on the bottom of the Baldachin cover in St Peter’s Basilica, allegedly created by melting down the traditional bronze ceiling from the portico of the Pantheon.

Barberini bees within the Basilica of S. Maria in Ara Coeli

Guests to Palazzo Barberini – in the present day residence to Italy’s assortment of historic artwork together with masterpieces by Caravaggio and Raphael – will discover the household’s bees carved on crests and into the palace partitions.

Elsewhere, the bees make an look within the Fountain of the Bees, created by Bernini, situated simply off Piazza Barberini, and in a stained glass window within the Basilica of S. Maria in Ara Coeli.

Barberini coat of arms within the Church of SS Cosma e Damiano. Picture: Stefano_Valeri /

In order you stroll round Rome on World Bee Day, hold a watch out for the centuries-old bees adorning town’s nice monuments.

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