The Church of Our Lady of the Priory (Italian: Santa Maria del Priorato), can also be also known by its previous name of Our Lady on the Aventine (Italian: Santa Maria in Aventino). It is the priory church of the Priory of the Knights of Malta
on the Aventine Hill in Rome
. It is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin.The original church was built in 939, when Odo of Cluny was given Alberic III's palace. The site was acquired by the Knights of Malta and in the 1550s, the church was rebuilt.
In 1760, the papal nephew and Grand Prior, Cardinal Giambattista Rezzonico, sought to improve the appearance of the buildings. On a limited budget, the church was substantially renovated between 1764-6 according to the designs of Giovanni Battista Piranesi who also built the piazza in front of the church, the Piazza dei Cavaliere di Malta. The fairly low wall around the piazza is articulated by panels with paired obelisks with stelae positioned in between them.
The church facade has paired fluted pilasters towards its edges to infer a temple front. The vertical linearity of the fluted pilasters act as a foil to enhance the more decorative reliefs of the facade. The reliefs on this facade, the entrance gate and the panels and stellae in the piazza include emblems and other references to the military and naval associations of the Knights of Malta and the Rezzonico family heraldary.
The way in which they are represented indicates Piranesi's fascination with Rome's ancient past as they allude to motifs from Ancient Rome and Etruria.Piranesi's decoration of the church interior culminates in the very sculptural High Altar.