The purpose of this paper is to offer a satisfactory formal and iconographical explanation for S. Ivo and its problematical elements. Although the church has been recognized for some time as Borromini's approximation of the ancient Temple of Solomon, its winding, shell-like spire does not fit into this interpretation-or any other yet proposed. The paper concentrates on a description of the Temple of Wisdom that has never before been linked to S. Ivo and shows how its apparently disparate components could be combined in one and the same building. This description appears in the Psychomachia by Prudentius (c. 405 A. D.), a poem about the battle between the Vices and Virtues. Upon the battle's happy conclusion, the Virtues build a temple to Wisdom. Prudentius's eloquent description of this temple is examined in detail, and aspects that may have appealed to Borromini are brought out and compared to S. Ivo. A Baroque masterpiece, the church incorporates Early Christian features in layout, construction, and decoration. Some of these features almost seem to be clues pointing to the building's origin in the Early Christian past, an era held up throughout the Counter Reformation as Christianity's Golden Age.
- Copyright 1989 The Society of Architectural Historians