Santa Maria in Via
Lata is a church on the Via del Corso
(the ancient Via Lata), in Rome
.It is claimed that St. Paul spent two years here, in the crypt under the church, whilst under house arrest waiting for his trial. This conflicts with the tradition regarding San Paolo alla Regola. The same was also claimed for St Peter, Paul's secretary Luke, Peter's disciple Martial, St John.
The first Christian place of worship here was a 5th century oratory (chapel with welfare centre) in the Roman building beneath the present church. This was constructed within the remains of a large Roman warehouse, some 250 metres long, which has also been excavated. The church's upper level was added in the 9th century, and murals added to the lower level between the 7th and 9th centuries (these have been detached for conservation reasons). The cosmatesque pavement from this phase survives.
The church was renovated in 1639 by Cosimo Fanzago, but the facade, with its corinthian columns imposing vertical emphasis, was completed (1658-1660) based on a design by Pietro da Cortona
. He appears to evoke a triumphal arch in the facade. The high altar Madonna Advocata (1636) is one of the few paintings in churches attributed to Bernini (perhaps by Santi Ghetti).
The ciborium in the apse is made from alabaster and lapis-lazuli.The first excavations of the site also occurred at this date, as commemorated by a relief in the crypt by Cosimo Fancelli.The families of Joseph and Lucien Bonaparte were buried here in the 18th century.