Column of the Immaculate Conception Rome about 1895
The Column of the Immaculate Conception or la Colonna della Immacolata, is a nineteenth-century monument in central Rome depicting the Blessed Virgin Mary, located in what is called Piazza Mignanelli, towards the south east extension of Piazza di Spagna. It was placed aptly in front of the offices of the Palazzo di Propaganda Fide (offices for promulgating the faith), now renamed the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
The Marian monument was designed by the architect Luigi Poletti, the actual figure atop was sculpted by Giuseppe Obici and commissioned by Ferdinand II, King of the Two Sicilies. In part, he wanted to put closure to the dispute between Naples and the Papal States that had developed in the last century, when Naples abolished the Chinea, a yearly tribute offered to the Pope as ultimate sovereign of Naples.
Since December 1953, Pontiffs have visited the monument annually and offered a bouquet of flowers at the base of the column commemorating the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
The column was dedicated on December 8, 1857. It celebrated the recently adopted (1854) dogma of the Immaculate Conception. The dogma had been proclaimed ex cathedra in the papal bull Ineffabilis Deus of Pope Pius IX. The structure is a square marble base with statues of biblical figures at the corners that uphold a column of Cipollino marble of 11.8 meters. Atop the column is a bronze statue of the Virgin Mary, sculpted by Giuseppe Obici. The standard imagery of the immaculate conception is used: a virgin on a crescent, atop the world, stomping a serpent (a symbol of the original sin assigned to all women since Eve, except the Virgin Mary).
The Corinthian column itself was sculpted in ancient Rome, and was discovered in 1777 during the construction of the monastery of Santa Maria della Concezione located in this area, the site of the former Campus Martius. The original column once bore the goddess Minerva carrying a shield, now lost in history. At the base are four statues of Hebrew figures that gave portent of the virgin birth, each accompanied by a quote of a biblical verse in Latin, including David (by Adam Tadolini), Isaiah (by Salvatore Revelli), Ezekiel (by Carlo Chelli), and Moses (by Ignazio Jacometti). (from Wikipedia)