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The Motherhouse of the Society of the Divine Savior has a very historical name, Palazzo Cesi. The name comes from the surname of its former owner. Cardinal Francesco Armellini started the building in the years 1517-1520. The foundation was laid almost at the same time as the foundation of the present Basilica of St. Peter.

Around 1565 Cardinal Pier Donato Cesi, from whom the present name is taken, bought the palace. Pier Donato Cesi was Bishop of Narni from 1546 to1566. He moved to Rome to assist the Pope in various diplomatic functions, and after he was made a cardinal in 1570, he thoroughly restored his palace, entrusting the task to a Lombardian architect, Martino Longhi il Vecchio. The result of his work is visible even now.

After its Cesi era, the palace changed owners several times. In the 19th century, two Graziolini brothers: Giovanni Battista and Giuseppe, owned the palace. The son of Giuseppe, Giulio, sold the palace in 1862 to Count Gustavo Candelori Moroni, who in 1875 bequeathed it to his son, Gustavo, and his widow, Amallia Rosati Kinsky. In 1879 Duca Giuseppe Caffarelli Negroni bought the palace, and three years later his son Duca Francesco Di Paola Negroni Caffarelli received it in bequest.  Father Francis Mary of the Cross Jordan bought it from him in 1895 and since then this building has been the property and Motherhouse of the Society of the Divine Savior.

Before the 1930s, the area around the Motherhouse looked quite different. The palace was located on a narrow street names Borgo Vecchio, which was built on the ancient Roman Via Cornelia leading from the Tiber River to the Circus of Nero at the foot of the Vatican hill.

The Cesi palace was built in a square form with an interior courtyard. On the north side a renaissance façade by Martino Longhop il Vecchio is preserved from the 16th century.  At the same time that the Via della Conciliazione was built, the west wing of the Cesi palace was removed as part of the project of renewing the area.  Between 1944 and 1946 the Salvatorians added a new part called "Casa Francesca” on the south side. For many years it housed Salvatorian students studying for the priesthood. It was completely remodeled at the beginning of the 21st century and is now the Residenza Palazzo Cesi hotel.

In the interior of the palace, there are many well preserved elements which give witness to its rich past. The best preserved ones are the historical ceilings in the halls on the first floor and the present chapel, library and parlor. There are 16th century frescos in the so called King Solomon Aula, and other frescos by Nicola Martinelli and Tommaso Laureti.

The street between the Motherhouse and the Vatican office building has been named Via Pancrazio Pfeiffer, honoring the memory of the Society’s second Supeior General who played an historical role as intermediary between the pope and the German high command during the occupation of Rome in World War II.

Franciscus Jordan

P

ray at all times in the deepest humility and with the greatest confidence. Let nothing keep you from it.

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