The Oratory of the Rosary of Saint Dominic (Oratorio del Rosario di San Domenico) was founded in the 1570s by the Society of the Holy Rosary, a group of wealthy merchants and artists, in dedication to the Virgin Mary. It was built as a form of gratitude for her divine intervention at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 against the Ottoman navy. The victory was decisive and significant as the Ottomans had not lost any major naval battles since the 15th century, and was such an important battle that it was commemorated by Pope Pius V who created a new feast day of Our Lady of Victory, which is now celebrated as the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.
One of the most famous members of the Society was Giacomo Serpotta a very talented sculpture who appears to have risen to prominence without mentor-ship and became renowned for his sculpture both in marble and poly-chrome, but it his stucco pieces that fill this Oratory. From 1714 to 1717 he painstakingly worked on a variety of pieces that adorn the walls to this day. Many of the other sculptures were created by Antonello Gagini during the 16th century. Various themes are displayed in the church, with Allegories of the Virtues, the Apocalypse of St John, and even a depiction of a demon falling from heaven. Another member of the society Pietro Novelli completed the fresco the ceiling during the 18th century with the Coronation of the Virgin. The Flemish artist Anthony Van Dyck painted the Madonna of the Rosary which is framed by the high altar and is considered the masterpiece of this beautiful small Oratory.
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