13. The Quirinal hill and the practice of law

It may be interesting to note that the south-western area of the Quirinal hill, on the edge of which is located the Villa Aldobrandini, headquarters of the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT) has, since ancient times, hosted buildings which in some way or other are related to the practice of law. In the 5th Centry B.C. a temple dedicated to Senio Dius Fidius, an archaic divinity attributed the safeguarding of respect for oaths, existed on the site of the Church of S. Silvestro al Quirinale built in the mid 16the Century. In the 16th Century, in front of the Church of S. Silvestro al Quirinale, was the palace of Cardinal di Vercelli which had been built on the north side of the ruins of the Baths of Constantine. It was in this building that the Apostolic Camera installed, at the end of the 16th Century, the Ecclesiastic Court of the Sacra Consulta, which decided civil and criminal law cases brought in the foro secolare, and of the Secretariat for papal briefs. It is not surprising that many of the monuments and plaques which decorate the walls and floors of the nearby Church of S. Silvestro al Quirinale were placed in memory of important jurists of the period. Particularly impressive is the cenotaph in honour of Prospero Farinacci, one of the counsels for the defence of Beatrice Cenci, whose dramatic fate inspired illustrious writers such as Stendhal, Dumas and Shelley. Cardinal di Vercelli's palace was demolished in 1730 to make way for the Palazzo della Consulta, seat of the present day Constitutional Court. Also on the piazza del Quirinale is the Quirinal Palace, the official residence of the Popes until 1870, of the Kings of Italy from 1872 to 1946, and of the President of the Republic of Italy since 1946.

Cenotafio Farinacci

Cenotaph in memory of the Roman jurist Prospero Farinacci (1544-1618), attributed to Domenico Fontana (1543-1607), in the Church of S. Silvestro al Quirinale. The bust's impressive pose and the frowning expression of the personage portrayed accurately symbolise the inexorable essence of the law. Prospero Farinacci had been appointed counsel of the Sacra Consulta by Pope Clemente VIII Aldobrandini and procuratore fiscale of the Apostolic Camera by Pope Paul V. Some of his works are in the collection of 17th and 18th Century legal books donated to library of the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT) in 1987 by Gino Gorla (1906 - 1992), former Professor of law in the Faculty of Law of the University of Rome "La Sapienza".

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