Caravaggio, the late 16th-century painter who was no stranger to scandal, caused admirers to gasp with this painting, Madonna di Loreto, seen here in the space it was painted for in Rome’s Sant’Agostino in Campo Marzio. The madonna (aka BVM) is shown in an apparition to two peasants as a common barefoot housewife, her petitioners not only barefoot but displaying their dirty soles! Her appearance not in some vaulted niche but in a shabby doorway, bricks showing through the decrepit plaster. Shame! There is no denying the power of this wonderful painting, just inside a relatively modest church on a somewhat hidden street not far from the tourist throngs in the Piazza Navona. Twenty-five years ago, I’d often had it (and a Raphael fresco of the prophet Isaiah just steps down the aisle) all to myself. No such luck these days. But still, the crowds are not as large as those at Caravaggio’s Saint Matthew trifecta in the nearby San Luigi dei Francesi.