"Minerva's Chick" Basilica Santa Maria Sopra Minerva Tip by jungles

  Elephant carrying obelisk
by jungles

This obelisk is the smallest of the thirteen in Rome, but it's still a pretty heavy load for the little elephant holding it up. The elephant was designed by the famous Baroque sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini. He was inspired by a 15th century novel called Poliphilo's Dream of the Strife of Love in which the main character meets an elephant made of stone carrying an obelisk. The statue was given the nickname Porcino (Piggy), eventually transformed to Pulcino, which in the Roman dialect means 'chick.' The obelisk was found in 1655 in the garden of the Dominican convent that adjoins the church; it was erected on the elephant base in 1667. For more information on Rome's obelisks, see my obelisk tip under St. John in Lateran.

Directions: southeast of the Pantheon
Phone: 06 6793926
Website: http://www.basilicaminerva.it/

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Jun 9, 2006
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