All Roads Lead To Roma
of Rome's churches and basilicas have undergone major cleaning/renovation
in preparation for the new millennium. The Vatican is now sparkling
white - in fact, some Romans feel it has been cleaned too well.
churches in Rome are quite dark inside, but some have coin-operated lighting
for chapels, special paintings and statuary, so make sure you bring some
change for those churches that have those features. Also, be aware that
dress codes are vigorously enforced in all Roman churches; St. Peter's
is especially strict. No sleeveless blouses or sleeveless
shirts (such as tanktops), or shorts. Dresses should be at least
to the knee; preferably below the knee. Shoes must be worn also.
I always wear black tennis shoes (personal preference) and that seems to
be okay. I have seen people wearing tee-shirts (shoulders covered)
and jeans, which is okay.
Appropriate Dress is
a MUST! If you are out sightseeing in shorts, miniskirts,
tanktops, sleeveless blouses, etc., and wish to enter a church, you must
be dressed appropriately (check my Dress - Etiquette section of
the General Information page). People who monitor visitors
in churches have the right to refuse entrance if in their opinion the visitor
is dressed inappropriate to enter. One way to get around this is
to carry long pants and a shirt/blouse with sleeves in a bag or backpack
so that when you wish to enter a church, you can slip these garments on
over your inappropriate attire before you enter. Strict dress codes
are especially adhered to at St. Peter's, so I wouldn't even try to enter
wearing short skirts, shorts, or sleeveless tops. You will be refused
A lot of churches and basilicas
have books available about the history of that particular building.
If you have the extra money, I highly recommend purchasing those that you
are interested in. I could kick myself for not doing so at the time
and have to do it the next time I visit. Postcards, however few,
are also often available of the interior of the churches, but be prepared
to pay quite a bit for them.
are hundreds of churches in Rome (in all of Rome, over 900), most all of
them containing at least one or two things worth seeing. But, one
cannot see all the churches or you wouldn't have time for anything else.
I have listed some of the more notable churches of Rome below and what
I think is worth seeing in each and have highlighted those that I believe
are a 'must see' with a red dot. For quite a larger listing of the
churches of Rome, both in Old Rome and all of Rome, all denominations,
please refer to the Church List at the bottom of this page. I have
broken Rome up into sections and what churches are in each section.
This makes it easier to plan your day of touring. Have fun!
I have collected a vast amount of pictures of the different churches in
Old Rome. If you are interested in a photo of any particular church
that you can't seem to find, let me know and if I have one, I will be glad
to email it to you. Some churches do not like for you to take flash
pictures; others are so dark or the ceiling is so high that unless you
have a very expensive professional camera, your picture will not come out.
However, most churches have postcards available at souvenir stalls or offices
inside the church for purchase. The larger churches and basilicas,
and more popular and important churches also have gift/souvenir shops as
will note in a lot of the apses of the churches, there are what is called
(which translates to 'part of the heart') in which parts of different pontiffs'
hearts are actually entombed behind the wall where the heart-shaped icons
in frames are hung. Pope Sixtus V started this tradition in the late
1500s and it wasn't until the early 1900s that it was stopped by Pope Pius
X. Some religious stores sell praecordias and some churches will
allow them to be hung near religious statues or paintings in niches in
memory of a loved one (for a steep fee, of course). The only place
I have ever found that sells praecordias is a rather large religious souvenir
shop across from the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore on a street that
border the side of the Basilica. It is called Casa del Rosario
and it is located at via Esquilino, 33-34. They have wonderful religious
souvenirs and gift items as well as praecordia, which run about 34 euro
The mentioning of 'relics' being located at a certain place is often times
misunderstood. A lot of people think that this means all of whatever
is mentioned, be it relics of saints or of clothing or objects of a religious
nature, are located in the place that it is mentioned. This is not
the case. 'Relics' used in its modern sense, are of some object,
notably part of the body or clothes or object, remaining as a memorial
of a departed saint or an object pertaining to Jesus. It does not
mean the entire body or object is located in this certain place.
A good case in point is that in a lot of guidebooks/resource books, it
says, that "relics of the remains of the skulls of Sts. Peter and Paul
are kept in a silver urn under the High Altar at San Giovanni in Laterano.
This means that a sliver of the bone matter or tissue from these saints
are located here, but it does not mean this is where they are buried.
In this case, St. Peter is buried in the Tomb of St. Peter underneath the
of St. Peter. The Tomb of St. Paul is located under the High
Altar of San Paolo fuori le Mura (St. Paul Outside the Walls) in
Rome. Also, while the 'relics' of St. James may be located in San
Giovanni in Laterano, the Tomb of James the Lesser (one of the Apostles)
is located under the High Altar at ss. Apostoli (Church of the Holy
Apostles) near Piazza Venezia in Rome. The Vatican has a Relics Library
that contains the remains of all the saints. Slivers of bone are
often collected from the remains and distributed to various religious sites
throughout the world.
same holds true for 'relics' of objects. Case in point, slivers of
the True Cross. A small portion of the True Cross may be located
in many different places, i.e., in the Sanctuary of Santa Croce
in Gerusalemme, under the cross atop the obelisk in St. Peter's Square,
behind the pilaster of St. Helena in the
Basilica of St. Peter.
It doesn't mean the entire True Cross is located there.
For information on the Basilica
of St. Peter and other sites inside Vatican City, please see my
and Environs page.
Spirito in Sassia, Borgo Santo Spirito 4. Open 7a-1230p and 4-8p
daily, tel. 687.93.10. (Holy Spirit of the Saxon Quarter)
church was built in the 8th century by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger.
It was constructed on the site of a church that was built by King Ine of
Wessex. It was rebuilt between 1538-44 after it was destroyed in
the Sack of Rome in 1527; the facade was added between 1585-90 during the
reign of Pope Sixtus V. The 1471 bell-tower was built by Baccio Pontelli.
Maria in Traspontina, via della Conciliazione 14, tel. 68.30.00.63,
630a-noon and 4-730p daily. (St. Mary's Across the Bridge)
Carmelite church sits on the site of an ancient Roman pyramid. In
the Middle Ages, it was believed to have been the Tomb of Romulus. This
present-day church was built in 1566 as a replacement of an earlier church
which was also completely flattened by cannon fire at Castel Sant'Angelo
during the Sack of Rome (1527). Check out the third chapel on the
left. The two columns are said to be those to which St. Peter and
St. Paul were bound before their deaths.
in Agone, Piazza Navona, tel. 679.44.35, 5a-630p Mon-Sat; 10a-1p
Sundays and public holidays. (Church of St. Agnes in Agony)
beautiful church faces Fontana dei Fiumi (Fountain of the Rivers, built
in 1651), which is the centerpiece of Piazza Navona. To see the underground
ruins of the Roman circus and large marble altarpiece (by A. Algardi),
you need to apply to the Sacristy. The beautiful ceiling frescoes
and main altar cupola is well worth seeing. A wonderful treat is being
there when the choir is performing.
Maria dell'Anima, via della Pace 20, tel. 683.37.29, 730a-7p Mon-Sat,
except July-Aug., 1p-3p; 8a-1p and 3p-7p Sunday. (St. Mary of
Maria dell'Anima was started in the 16th century by Giuliano da Sangallo
and is the only German church in Rome. The bell-tower is accredited
to Bramante. The church contains the tomb of Pope Adrian VI.
Of special interest: a monument to Hadrian VI (1523 to a Peruzzi
design); and the altarpiece on the High Altar is by Giulio Romano.
If the interior of the church is closed, ring No. 20, Piazza della Pace
at the back.
Maria della Pace, Vicolo del Arco della Pace 5, tel. 686.11.56
Mary of Peace).
beautiful old church was built in 1480 by Baccio Pontelli for Sixtus IV.
The Baroque facade was added in 1656 by Pietro da Cortona and the piazza
enlarged to accommodate the carriages of the church's wealthy parishioners.
Of interest is the high altar under the cupola which houses the miraculous
image of the Madonna of Peace, which bled when hit by a stone. Of
special interest: Raphael's
frescoes of the Sibyls which is
above the first altar on the right near the front door, and Bramante's
cloisters. The church is more often closed than open, but the
cloister is used in the summer for concerts. I have been lucky in
that every time I have visited, it has been open.
Luigi dei Francesi, Via Santa Giovanna d'Arco, tel. 688.27.1, Fri.-Wed.
7:30am-12:30pm and 3:30-7 pm. Thursday, it is only open from 7:30am-12:30pm.
of St. Louis of the French).
Giacomo della Porta built
this church in 1518. It was inaugurated in 1589 and many Frenchmen
are buried within its walls. Domenichino's
Life of St. Cecilia
frescoes in the second chapel on the right are a must-see. Also a
must-see are Caravaggio's three masterpieces which are located in the fifth
chapel on the left: Vocation of St. Matthew, St. Matthew and the
Angel; and Martyrdom of St. Matthew (1598-1601).
alla Sapienza, Corso del Rinascimento. The only church with a twisted
spiral spire. For mass, 10a-noon Sunday. Closed July-Aug. (St.
Ivo by the Sapienza; Sapienza means "the Knowledge" and the Sapienza was
the first university founded in Rome.)
is the only church in Rome which has a twisted spiral spire. It was
built in 1660 by Borromini. The cupola is well worth viewing.
The church itself is very small and circular tucked inside a rather large
della Valle, Piazza Sant'Andrea della Valle, tel. 686.13.39, 730a-noon,
430p-730p daily. (Church of St. Andrew of the Valley)
of Sant'Andrea della Valle was begun in 1591 by Giacomo della Porta and
F. Grimaldi. It was finished in 1625 by Maderno. After the
dome of St. Peter's, this church's dome is the next highest. This
church was also the scene of the first act of Puccini's opera, Tosca.
You will find the tombs of Popes Pius II and III here as well.
Chiesa Nuova (New
Church), Piazza della Chiesa Nuova, tel. 687 52 89, 8a-noon and 430p-7p
church was originally known as St. Mary in Vallicella and took some
30 years to build. It was built for S. Filippo Neri beginning in
1575, continuing in 1583 by M. Longhi the Elder, and finally being completed
in 1605 by F. Rughesi. Most of the interior is filled with frescoes
by Pietro da Cortona, and Rubens' two pictures with Saints (1608)
adorn the sides of the altar in the Presbytery. You can visit the
rooms where S. Filippo Neri lived just past the Sacristy.
Piazza di Sant'Agostino, Tel. 06/68801962, Mon.-Sat. 7:45 am-noon and 4-7:30
pm., Sun. 4 pm-6 pm.
(Church of St. Augustine)
Pietrasanta built this church between 1479 and 1483. It contains
the high altar, built by Bernini. Also contains the famed Madonna
of the Pilgrims by Caravaggio, which scandalized Rome because it depicted
pilgrims with dirt on the soles of their feet (over the first altar on
Salvatore in Lauro, Piazza San Salvatore in Lauro 15. Tel. 687
51 87. 830a-noon (except Thursday) and 430p-7p daily. (San Salvatore
of the Laurel)
area where this church was built in ancient times was the site of a laurel
grove (in lauro); hence, the name of the church. What you see today
was built by Ottaviano Mascherino in the 16th century. The bell-tower
and Sacristy were added in the 18th century by the sculptor responsible
for Trevi Fountain, Nicola Salvi. San Giorgio Convent next door to
this church has a monument to Pope Eugenius IV who moved here when old
St. Peter's was torn down. The first major altarpiece by Pietro da
Cortona (an artist of the 17th century) called
The Birth of Jesus is
in the first chapel on the right and well worth seeing.
Piazza Sant'Apollinare 49. Tel. 68 30 80 37. 730a-noon and 4-730p daily.
original church was erected in medieval times and was rebuilt in the 18th
century by Ferdinando Fuga. It is dedicated to the saint (who later
became the first Bishop of Ravena) that was said to have traveled from
Antioch to Rome with St. Peter. Special services are held on Sundays
in which Gregorian chants are sung by the priests. Absolutely inspiring.
Della Rotonda Area
di Loyola, Piazza di Sant'Ignazio, Tel. 679 44 06. 7:30a-1230p
and 4p-715p daily. (St. Ignatius of Loyola)
beautiful church was built by Cardinal Ludovisi in 1626, dedicated to St.
Ignatius of Loyola. Gilt, stucco, marble, and precious stones line
its massive interior. Worth seeing is a fake perspective painting
that takes the place of a cupola that was supposed to be built but never
was. You would swear there is a cupola there but, in reality, it
is a flat surface! The supports that were built to hold the weight
of the cupola actually support the Collegio Romano observatory. Also
noteworthy is the ceiling in which the frescoes do not look down at you
but, rather, as you look up at them, they seem to be ascending into the
Heavens. Some of the fresco figures also come down the side of the
church walls from the ceiling. Very different than the ceiling frescoes
of most other churches in Rome. Put this one on your itinerary!
(Church of Santa Maria ad Martyres),
Piazza della Rotonda, Tel. 68.30.02.30. Hours: Mon.-Fri. 9
a.m.-4:30 p.m. (July and August until 6 p.m.); Sat., Sun., and public holidays
9 a.m.-1 p.m. Closed August 15 and December 25. Free admission.
The first Pantheon
was constructed by Marcus Agrippa between 27-25 B.C. Between 118-125
A.D., Emperor Hadrian built a new Pantheon and, in 609, it was consecrated
as the Church of Santa Maria ad Martyres under Pope Boniface IV.
This is truly a majestic building and one of the only ancient structures
left in Rome that is still intact and in use today. The only light
that enters the circular building is through a hole in the center of the
coffered dome called the "oculus". It is the same as in Nero's "Golden
House". The building was constructed from a new material of the time
called concrete, which was born after the great fire of Rome in 64 and
new fireproofing codes had been enacted. The beautiful marble inlaid
floor (which is of the original Roman design) is sloped slightly so that
rainwater would be able to drain from inside the building. In 735,
Pope Gregory III had the roof done in lead and, in 663, Emporer Constans
II removed the gilded tiles from the roof. To support the heavy dome,
the walls are 19 feet thick. The Rotonda's height and width are the
same - 140 feet. The original portico built by M. Agrippa remain
and is built on the foundation of the original temple. There were
twin bell towers added on each side of the portico, but due to ridicule
they were removed in 1883 leaving the original structure. The interior
walls are lined with tombs, including that of painter Raphael and King
Vittorio Emanuele II. It is interesting to note that when the papal
seat was located in Avignon between 1305-1377, the Pantheon was used as
a poultry market and fortress. In 1632, Urban VIII had the bronze
from the portico/dome melted down to provide Bernini the bronze with which
to build the baldacchino in St. Peter's Basilica. Concerts are also
held here from time to time. A MUST-SEE!
Piazza del Gesu, 7am-noon and 4pm-7:00pm (Oct.-Mar. 4-715p) daily.
Tel. 06/697.001. (Church of Jesus)
of this massive church was begun in 1568 by Vignola and was finally finished
by Giacomo della Porta in 1575. It is quite large and sits behind
Palazzo Venezia where via d. Plebiscito and Corso Vittorio Emanuele II
meet in Piazza del Gesu. You will find the tomb of St. Ignatius (its
founder) buried under the altar. Also found in this church is the
largest known globe made of solid lapis-lazuli. Be sure to check
out the exquisite ceiling painting, Triumph in the Name of Jesus.
Maria sopra Minerva, Piazza
della Minerva 42. Tel. 679 39 26. 7a-noon and 4p-7p daily. (St. Mary
church was originally built over the Temple of Minerva and was rebuilt
in 1280 by the Dominicans. It is the only Gothic church in Rome.
Behind the Sacristy is the chapel where St. Catherine died in 1380.
Part of her relics are buried under the high altar. A statue worth
seeing is Michelangelo's Christ Carrying
the Cross (1521). The tombstone of painter Beato Angelico
(1387-c1455) is also here. In the piazza is Bernini's famed marble
elephant statue with an Egyptian obelisk on top. This church is surrounded
by religious shops catering to priests and religious leaders, containing
exquisite ceremonial robes, miters, jeweled books, chalices, and the like,
and well worth browsing. Who knows, you may buy something exquisite!
I sure did! The Pantheon is a block away.
Piazza Sant'Eustachio, Tel. 686 53 34. 4p-7p daily. (Church of
origin of this church goes back to very early Christian times when it was
a center for offering assistance to the poor. Of the original church,
the bell-tower (Romanesque in design) is one of the few surviving parts.
The church was totally rebuilt in the 17th and 19th centuries.
Maddalena, Piazza della Maddalena. Tel. 679 77 96. 730a-noon,
5p-745p daily. (Church of St. Mary Magdalen)
This church is amazing in
design. It has a beautiful Baroque facade of 1735 and is located
near the Pantheon. There are wonderful works of art in this church,
including paintings and sculptures (statues such as Humility and
and scenes from the Life of San Camillo who died in 1614 in the
convent next door.
Maria in Campo Marzio, Piazza in Campo Marzio 45. Tel. 678 70 21.
530p-630p daily, closed the month of August.
can view the remains of medieval houses around the courtyard upon entering
this church, once the property of the original monastery. Antonio
de Rossi rebuilt the church in 1685 in the shape of a square Greek cross
with a cupola. The painting of the Madonna above the altar is 12th
century and gave the church it name.
Lorenzo in Lucina, via in Lucina 16A. Tel. 687 14 94. 8a-noon and
is one of Rome's oldest Christian churches, supposedly built over the well
which was sacred to Juno (the protectress of women). It was rebuilt
in the 12th century and has a beautiful marble inlaid bell-tower.
Of interest: the busts in the Fonseca Chapel by Bernini, and Guido
Reni's Crucifixion above the main altar. French painter Nicolas
Poussin, who died in Rome in 1655 and was buried here has a 19th century
monument dedicated to him.
di Spagna Area
delle Fratte, via Sant'Andrea delle Fratte 1. Tel. 679 31 91. 630a-1245p
and 4p-9p daily. (St. Andrew of the Thickets)
church was built in what was the northernmost part of Rome in the 12th
century (Fratte literally means 'thickets'). Borromini partially
rebuilt the church in the 17th century. The bell-tower and dome are
very unusual in that they have a very intricate pattern of convex and concave
surfaces. These are best viewed from farther up Via Capo le Case.
Of special interest are the angel caryatids in the bell-tower, with flaming
torches resembling ice cream cones. It is said that, in 1842, the
Virgin Mary appeared in the church to a Jewish banker, who immediately
converted and became a missionary. The first thing you see upon entering
is the Chapel of the Miraculous Madonna. Another astonishing
sight in this church are the Bernini Angels which were carved for
the Ponte Sant'Angelo but were declared too breathtaking to be left outside,
so were kept in Bernini's family until they were moved to the church in
1729. During the 1997 Assisi earthquakes, this church's cupola was
heavily damaged with huge cracks, forcing the church to close to the public
until repairs could be made. Repairs were made and the church has
dei Monti, Piazza della Trinita dei Monti, tel. 679 41 79, 830a-noon
and 4p-6p daily. (Trinity of the Mountains)
is one of only a very few churches in Rome with twin bell-towers and is
probably the most recognized because of its location at the top of the
Spanish Steps. From the front of this church, one has a spectacular
view of the city as well. This church was built in 1495 by the French
but was later heavily damaged. There is a wonderful life-sized statue
of Christ Carrying the Cross to the right as you enter the church.
There are many side chapels, each decorated with Mannerist paintings, including
two works by Daniele da Volterra, one of Michelangelo's students.
Interestingly, Volterra had to paint clothing on the nude figures in the
Judgment in the Sistine Chapel because Pope Pius IV objected to showing
genitalia that was painted by Michelangelo. Of special interest is
also The Deposition in the second chapel on the left, and The
Assumption in the third chapel on the right.
Saints, Via del Babuino, 153B. Tel. 699 41 430. Open mornings only;
wasn't until 1816 that the Pope gave English residents and visitors the
right to hold Anglican services in Rome, and it wasn't until the 1880s
that they obtained the site to build their own church, which is called
All Saints. It was built by G. E. Street who is famous for building
Britain's neo-Gothic churches and the London Law Courts. In fact,
the organ in this church was originally from Huddersfield, England.
Street also designed St. Paul's-Within-the-Walls in Via Nazionale (not
to be confused with one of the four major churches of Rome, St. Paul's-Outside-the-Walls
near Porta S. Paolo).
Maria dei Miracoli (St. Mary of Miracles) and Santa Maria in Montesanto
(Saint Mary of the Holy Hill),
Piazza del Popolo. The twin churches. S. Maria dei Miracoli (tel. 361 02
50) open 6a-1p and 5p-7p Mon.-Sat., 8a-1p and 5p-7p Sun. and public holidays.
S. Maria in Montesanto (tel. 361 05 94) open 5p-8p (Nov.-Mar. 4p-7p) Mon.,
Wed., and Fri.
are known as the twin churches and can best be viewed from the center of
Piazza del Popolo. In order to provide a focal point for the piazza,
they had to look symmetrical, but the site on the left was narrower than
the site on the right. So, Baroque architect Carlo Rainaldi (1611-91)
cleverly solved that problem by giving Santa Maria dei Miracoli a circular
dome and Santa Maria in Montesanto an oval one. Pretty smart!
Maria del Popolo, Piazza del Popolo 12. Tel. 361 08 36. 7a-noon
and 4p-7p daily. (St. Mary of the People).
original church was built on this site in 1099. A host of famous
architects rebuilt this beautiful old church beginning in 1472; namely,
A. Bregno, Pinturicchio, and B. Pontelli. Later, Bramante and Bernini
made additions to it. Actually, Santa Maria del Popolo contains one
of the richest collections of art of all the Rome churches, with the exception
of St. Peter's, of course. It also contains two Chigi pyramid tombs
embedded in the walls of the side chapels, the tomb of Cardinal Foscari,
and the tomb of Cardinal Della Revere by Mino da Fiesole and A. Bregno.
Of interest is the kneeling skeleton mosaic on the floor in the Chigi Chapel
of the 17th century (there are sculpted skeletons all over this church;
the skeleton is the symbol of death, obviously). Other items of interest:
the Della Revere Chapel, and the Caravaggio paintings in the Cerasi Chapel,
Crucifixion of St. Peter who was crucified upside
down. The stained-glass of 1509 by French artist Guillaume de Marcillat
is Rome's first two. Also, there is the tomb of Ascanio Sforza, who
died in 1505, built by Andrea Sansovino. An interesting note on Nero's
Ghost: Nero lived on in the imagination of the people long after
the fall of the Roman Empire. In the Middle Ages, a legend arose
that a walnut tree growing here on the spot where his ashes were buried
was haunted by the Emperor. Ravens roosting in the tree were thought
to be demons tormenting him for his hideous crimes. When the first
church was built here, under Pope Paschal II's reign, the tree was cut
down, supposedly putting an end to the supernatural events that had terrified
the locals for so long.
Ambrogio e Carlo al Corso, Via del Corso 437. Tel. 687 83 32. 730a-1230p
and 5p-7p (Oct.-Mar. 730p) daily.
church originally belonged to the Lombard community in Rome and was dedicated
to two canonized bishops of Milan, Lombardy's capital. It was then
given to the Lombards by Pope Sixtus IV in 1471 and they dedicated it to
Sant'Ambrogio who died in 397. After Carlo Borromeo was canonized
in 1610, the church was rebuilt and dedicated to him. The church
was built mostly by Onorio and Martino Longhi, father and son. Pietro
da Cortona built the massive dome, and there is a wonderful altarpiece
by Carlo Maratta (1625-1713), Gloria dei Santi Ambrogio e Carlo,
that is very well worth seeing. There is a chapel that houses the
heart of San Carlo in an exquisite reliquary, that can be reached by way
of an aisle that leads behind the altar. If the church is closed,
ring the porter's door to the left of the church.
Maria dell'Orazione e Morte, via Giulia. Open for Mass 6p Sunday
and public holidays. (St. Mary of Prayer and Death)
The main theme of this church
is death. In the 16th century, this church collected the bodies of
the unknown dead so that they could be given a Christian burial.
Ferdinando Fuga decorated the facade's doors and windows with winged skulls
and an ancient hourglass, called a
clepsydra, is located above the
central entrance to the church. The hourglass is a symbol of death.
degli Orefici, Via di Sant'Eligio 8A. 1030a-1230p Mon-Sat. When
closed, inquire at No. 9 Via de Sant'Eligio. Closed August and September.
Eligio of the Goldsmiths)
interior and dome are products of Raphael. This 16th century church
was so-named because it was sponsored by the area's goldsmiths (orefici)
of the time. The cupola is by Baldassarre Peruzzi and the facade
is by Flaminio Ponzio in the 17th century. There are paintings inside
by 16th century painters, including Taddeo Zuccari, who also contributed
to the works that are housed in Palazzo Farnese.
Maria di Monserrato, Via di Monserrato. Not open to the public
except by special permission. Apply to the rector at the address above.
Mary of Monserrat [Catalonia], a title given by the founders of the original
church in the 14th century who came from Barcelona.)
This is the Spanish national
church of Rome dating back to 1506. It originally started as a hospice
for pilgrims from Spain by a brotherhood of the Virgin of Montserrat in
Catalonia. There is a fine Bernini bust of Cardinal Pedro Foix de
Montoya, which was the church's benefactor. There are some 15th century
tombs by Andrea Bregno and Luigi Capponi located in the side chapels and
Carlo ai Catinari, Piazza B. Cairoli. 7a-noon and 4p-7p daily.
Charles of the Bowl-makers)
The Sacristy altar of gold
and inlay is breathtaking in this church, which has an exquisite crucifix
inlaid with marble, mother-of-pearl, and glass by sculptor Algardi.
This is Rome's Milanese community church founded in 1620, dedicated to
Cardinal Carlo Borromeo. It gets its name because of the bowl makers
(catinari) that occupied shops in the surrounding neighborhood. In
1638, Soria built the beautiful travertine facade. Antonio Gherardi
designed and decorated the St. Cecilia Chapel. Examples of
the paintings and frescoes from the Counter Reformation are by Pietro da
Cortona and Guido Reni, which depict the Life of San Carlo.
Maria in Campitelli, Piazza di Campitelli. 7a-noon and 4p-7p daily.
(Also known as Santa Maria in Portico)
This church, designed by
Carlo Rainaldi, was finished in 1667. During and after the dreaded
plague that ravished Rome in the 17th century, little could be done to
eradicate it so people prayed for a cure to a medieval icon of the Virgin
called the Madonna del Portico. In 1656, church construction
was started to house this icon. There is a gilded altar tabernacle
designed by Giovanni Antonio de Rossi which contains the image of the Virgin
(the medieval icon). Paintings by Rome's master painters such as
Il Baciccia, Luca Giodano, and Conca line the side chapels and are well
worth taking a look at.
Nicola in Carcere, Via del Teatro di Marcello. 730a-noon and 4p-7p
Mon-Sat, 10a-7p Sun. Closed August through mid-September. (St.
Nicholas in Prison)
This medieval church occupies
the ancient site of three Roman temples of the Republican era. These
temples were eventually converted into a prison (called carcere,
which means prison). The temples were those of Spes, Juno, and Janus,
and they faced one of Rome's gates that led from the Forum Holitorium (the
City's vegetable and oil market) down to the port which was on the Tiber.
There are columns embedded in the walls of the church that belonged to
two side-by-side temples whose platforms are now marked by grass lawns.
In 1599, the church was rebuilt, and restored again in the 19th century,
but the bell-tower is part of the original church. You can see that
the bell-tower and the facade of the church do not go together because
of the different styles of architecture.
and Synagogue, Synagogue, Lungotevere dei Cenci 15, Mon.-Thurs.
9am-5pm, Fri. 9am-2pm, Sun. 9am-12:30pm. Closed Saturday, no cameras. Ghetto,
main street is Via Del Portico d'Ottavia. Admission charge to Museo
Ebraico (Museum of the Jewish Community).
Pompey the Great originally
brought Jews to Rome as slaves. During the Roman Empire, Jews were
appreciated for the medical and financial skills they possessed.
Their relative freedom continued in the Middle Ages but, in the 16th century,
they started experiencing systematic persecution. On the orders of
Pope Paul IV, in 1556, high walls were erected around the Jews and they
were forced to live inside those walls. The gates were closed at
night, but during the day they were free to leave the walled enclosure
separating them from the rest of Rome. They were driven to the Church
of Sant'Angelo in Pescheria and forced to listen to Christian sermons on
Sundays (a practice that did not end until 1848). Persecution started
again under Fascism when many Jews were sent to German concentration camps.
The Synagogue on Lungotevere was built in 1874.
Giovanni dei Fiorentini, Via Acciaioli 2. 7a-11a and 5p-730p (Oct.-Mar
430p-7p) daily. (St. John of the Florentines)
church was built by several architects, starting with I. Sansovino in the
15th century, continued by A. da Sangallo the Younger and Giacomo della
Porta, and completed by C. Maderno, taking over 100 years to construct.
Pope Leo X wanted it to be an "expression of cultural superiority of Florence
over Rome". Artists from Tuscany decorated the church. Carlo
Maderno and Borromini are buried in the church and the altar is by Borromini.
This is the only church in Rome where animals are welcomed. The faithful
bring their pets, and the annual Easter lamb-blessing ceremony takes place
here. Well worth seeing is Antonio Raggi's sculpture, The Baptism
Maria in Aracoeli, Piazza d'Aracoeli (entrances via Aracoeli Staircase
and door behind Palazzo Nuovo). Tel. 679 81 55. Open 7a-noon, 4p-6p (June-Sept
630p) daily. (St. Mary of the Altar in the Sky)
ancient church, built on the ancient site of the Temple to Juno, is from
the 6th century and is located at the top of the famed Aracoeli Staircase
by Michelangelo at the Capitoline. The 22 columns that support the
church are from ancient buildings of the area. An inscription on
the third column to the left explains that it comes from a cubiculo
Augustorum (from the bedroom of the emperors). The Commemoration
of the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 adorns the ceiling and was built during
the reign of Pope Gregory III Boncompagni whose family crest (the dragon)
is located toward the end of the altar. To the right of the entrance
door is a tombstone by Donatello memorializing archdeacon Giovanni Crivelli.
The Pinturicchio frescoes in the first chapel on the right of the 1480s
pertain to the life and death of St. Bernardino of Siena and on the left
wall is The Burial of the Saint. The most famous thing about
Santa Maria in Aracoeli is the Santo Bambino, an olive-wood figure
of the Christ Child dating from the 15th century, which was carved by a
Franciscan monk out of a tree from the Garden of Gethsemane. The
figure's miraculous powers are supposed to include resurrecting the dead,
and it is sometimes carried to the bedside of the gravely ill. If
the statue can help the person, its lips turn purple; if not, then they
turn pale. During the holidays, the statue is moved to the crèche
(second chapel on the left), but is usually located in the Sacristy, as
is the panel of the Holy Family from the workshop of Giulio Romano.
Marco, Piazza San Marco, 48. Tel. 679 52 05. April-Sept. 7a-1230p
and 5p-730p. Oct-Mar 8a-1p and 4p-7p daily. No cameras allowed. (Church
of St. Mark)
This is one of the oldest
intact churches in Rome, founded in 336 by St. Mark (who is the patron
saint of Venice), then pope, in honor of St. Mark the Evangelist.
Relics of Pope Mark are found under the altar. This church was restored
in the 9th century under the reign of Pope Gregory IV. In 1471, Pope
Paul II Barbo made San Marco the church of the Venetian community of Rome.
You will see the pope's crest decorating the blue-and-gold coffered ceiling.
In the 1740s, Filippo Barigioni created the colonnades in Sicilian jasper,
quite striking. The colonnades on the sides of the church hide the
original pillars of the nave. It looks as though a new ornate box-shaped
wall was lowered into place to hide the original walls of the basilica,
though you can see both very distinctively. The odor in this church
reeks old. Definitely worth seeing. It is on the back side
of Palazzo Venezia in Piazza San Marco just around the corner from Piazza
Venezia, and across the street from the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument.
charge is for entry to the Roman Forum. Apr-Sep. 9a-7p Mon.-Sat.
and 9a-2p on Sun. Oct.-Mar. 9a-3p Mon.-Sat. and 9a-2p on Sun.
Closed public holidays.
Francesca Romana, Piazza di Santa Francesca Romana, 9:30a-1p, and
4p-7p daily. (St. Francis of Rome)
called Santa Maria Nova, it is inside the Roman Forum. Every
March 9, motorists park as close as they can to this church so their cars
can be blessed by Santa Francesca Romana, who is the patron saint of motorists.
This is quite a sight to see if you are in Rome during this time of year.
Of note is a flagstone that show the imprints of the knees of St. Peter
and St. Paul.
Giuseppe dei Falegnami. Apr-Sep. 9a-noon, 2:30p-6p and Oct-Mar.
9a-noon and 2-5p. Donation is expected.
is the 16th-century Church of St. Joseph of the Carpenters.
Beneath it is the famed Mamertine Prison where St. Peter
was imprisoned and also has an altar with a cross presented upside down,
the way St. Peter was crucified. The prison was an old cistern with
access to the city's main sewer at the time of Imperial Rome. The
lower cell was used for executions and the bodies were then thrown into
the sewer. The entire complex is also known as San Pietro in Carcere
Peter in Prison).
Luca e Martina (Church of Sts. Luke and Martin)
medieval church was rebuilt in 1640 by Pietro da Cortona and is at the
base of the steps leading to the Campidoglio. NOTE: I have
never found this church open whenever I have visited the Foro Romano.
Cosma e Damiano, 7a-1pm, 3p-7p only. There is an admission
charge for the creche.
church is on the site of the Temple of Romulus. The domed building
is part of the present church. Of special interest is viewing the
Lorenzo in Miranda, Roman Forum. Closed to the public.
of the strangest and most preserved sight in the Roman Forum is the Baroque
facade of this church, which incorporates the ancient Temple of Antoninus
and Faustina. It was first dedicated in 141 A.D. (portico still completely
intact) as a temple and became in church in the 11th century after St.
Lawrence was condemned to death there.
Piazza di Sant'Onofrio, 2. 10a-noon Sunday for Mass; otherwise, admission
by appointment only. Tel. 686 44 98. Closed August except for Saint's Feast
Day on August 12. Museum is open by appointment only, but well worth
Pietro in Montorio, Piazza San Pietro in Montorio, 2. 9a-noon and
4p-630p daily. If closed, ring bell at door to the right of the church.
Peter's on the Gold Mountain)
Known as "The Church of
St. Peter", it was built where, according to tradition, St. Peter was crucified,
and was rebuilt in the 15th century by Baccio Pontelli in Renaissance form.
However, documents indicate St. Peter was in fact crucified in Nero's Circus
to the left of St. Peter's Basilica. The interior is simple with
chapels and niches containing various works of art, as is common in a lot
of Rome's churches. Of special interest is Sebastiano del Piombo's
Flagellation, which is located in the first chapel on the right. The
Deposition by Dirck van Baburen (1617) is in the fourth chapel on the
left. A beautiful panorama of Rome can be seen from the square.
There is a small court to the right of the church that houses the Tempietto
of Bramante, an elegant circular building with an outer ring of columns
and cupola, built in 1502. A hole in the chapel below is said to
be where the cross of St. Peter was fixed. This is very well worth
seeing if you have the time.
Maria della Scala, Via della Scala. 630a-noon and 4p-7p (Oct-Mar
615p) Mon-Sat; 645a-1215p Sun. and public holidays. (St. Mary of the
The Baroque altar of this
church is incredibly ornate, with multicolored marble columns, gold, and
angels adorning the top of the altar. This church was built in the
16th century and is well worth seeing for the altar.
Maria dei Sette Dolori, Via Garibaldi, 27. Closed to the
This church construction
was started in the 1640s by Borromini but, like many of his projects, was
left unfinished. The brick facade and concave and convex surfaces
tell the viewer it was definitely a Borromini work.
and Museo del Folklore, Piazza Sant'Egidio, 1. Museo del
Folklore 9a-130p Tu-Sat, 9a-1p Sun, 5p-730p Tu and Thurs (last admission
30 minutes before closing). Admission charge. Church is open for services
only 830pm daily.
The Museum of Roman Folklore
and of the Romanesque Poets is part of the collection previously displayed
in Palazzo Braschi.
Maria in Trastevere, Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere. 730a-1p,
4p-7p daily. Church 6p daily.
This basilica shares its
location with a 17th century fountain and the 17th century Palace of S.
Callisto. This was actually the first church in Rome to be dedicated
to Mary, but the present church dates from 1130-43. 12th and 13th
century mosaics adorn the front of the church, and a Romanesque bell-tower
is reached via a portico under which are located various marbles and funeral
tablets. The interior has a nave and two aisles on large ancient
trabeated columns. The lush wooden roof was done by Domenichino in
1617. In the Presbytery, closed by a marble surround, a mark indicates
the place where oil spurted out on the day of Christ's birth (a legend).
Large mosaics of 1140 cover the great arch at the end (The Cross Between
Symbols) and the half-dome of the apse (The Saviour, The Virgin
and Saints); there are six mosaic panels under these of the Life
of Mary, by Cavallini in 1291.
Crisogono, Piazza Sonnino, 44. 7a-1130a and 4p-7p Mon-Sat, 8a-1p
Sun. Admission charge for excavations.
On the left of the Piazza
Sonnino is the 13th century Tower of the Anguillara with the restored
little palace and now the site of the
House of Dante; the Church
of S. Crisognono, rebuilt in the 12th century (the same date as
the bell-tower) and altered in the 17th century is at the end. The
nave and two aisles are on ancient columns, the pavement is Cosmatesque,
the fine wooden ceiling in Baroque style, and in the apse, a mosaic of
the Cavallini school of the 13th century.
Cecilia in Trastevere, Piazza di Santa Cecilia. 10a-noon and 4p-6p
daily. Admission charge for excavations. Cavallini fresco can
be seen 10a-1130a Tu and Thurs (donation expected).
Dating from before the 5th
century, this church was rebuilt in the 9th century and altered several
times since, especially in the 18th century. The bell-tower is from
1113 and the Baroque facade is by F. Fuga. The 12th century portico
is accessed by way of the courtyard. There is a nave and two aisles.
To the left of the main entrance is the tomb of Mino da Fiesole (circa
1473) and to the right is the tomb of Paolo Romano of the late 14th century.
You will find beautiful frescoes in a corridor at the beginning of the
right aisle by Pomarancio and P. Bril that are of landscapes. There
is a marble statue of St. Sebastian by L. Lotti (16th century) at the end
of the corridor which gives entrance to the ancient caldarium where St.
Cecilia suffered the torture of suffocation by steam. On the altar
is the Decollation of the Saint by Guido Reni (well worth seeing).
In 1283, Arnoldo di Cambio created the Gothic canopy which covers the High
Altar. There is the famed
white marble statue of St. Cecilia by
S. Maderno (1600) in which he portrays her as she had been found in the
tomb in 1599. There is also a 9th century mosaic located in the apse
worth seeing as well. From the modern crypt at the beginning of the
left aisle (admission charge), one descends to the remains of Roman
constructions of various eras, spread out under the entire church.
Awesome and worth seeing. In the convent adjacent to the church,
the nuns' choir is decorated with a monumental fresco of P. Cavallini's
masterpiece, The Last Judgment (late 13th century). The fresco
can be visited during the times indicated at the beginning of this synopsis.
There is also an exquisite outdoor tomb in the portico of the Basilica
on the right side as you face the Basilica.
Francesco a Ripa, Piazza San Francesco d'Assisi, 88. 7a-noon and
This is a Baroque church
that was built in 1689. In the last chapel on the left is Bernini's
Statue of the Blessed Ludovica Albertoni (1674) and also a canvas
by Baciccia. The 16th century
by F. Salviati
is located in the next chapel. In the convent (apply to the Sacristy
to visit) is the cell in which St. Francis lived, with a 13th century
portrait of the saint.
Maria in Cosmedin, Piazza della Bocca della Verita, 18. 9a-1p and
3p-6p daily (Oct-Mar 5p). Phone first at 678 14 19.
This plain-looking church
was built on the site of ancient Rome's food market in the 6th century.
It has a Romanesque bell-tower and portico that were added in the 12th
century. The Baroque facade was removed in the 19th century to restore
the church to its original form. Of particular interest is the mosaic
pavement, raised choir, the bishop's throne, and the canopy over the main
altar. Set into the wall is the famed Bocca della Verita (Mouth
of Truth). This was in the movie, "Roman Holiday". This is
thought to have been a drain cover dating before the 4th century B.C.
Medieval tradition had it that the formidable jaws of the mouth would snap
shut over the hands of those who told lies - which proved to be useful
for testing the faithfulness of spouses.
San Giorgio in Velabro,
Via del Velabro, 19. Tel. 06/126.96.36.199.
(St. George by the Velabrum)
This 7th century basilica,
dedicated to St. George, is located in the ancient low-lying swamp (Velabrum)
where Romulus and Remus are said to have been found by the she-wolf.
St. George's bones are located under the altar. This church has suffered
from heavy floods over the many centuries but has always been restored
to its original simplicity. It has a double row of granite and marble
columns that were taken from ancient Roman temples, which divide the triple
nave. Pietro Cavallini's 1295 golden frescoes adorn the apse.
The bell-tower and facade are of the 12th century. You can see the
high water marks of 1870 on the portico of the basilica. Unfortunately,
this church suffered extensive damage due to a bombing in 1993. Through
major efforts for restoring this basilica, it has now re-opened.
San Teodoro, Via
di San Teodoro. 1030a-noon Sunday only.
This is a 6th century round
church found at the foot of the Palatine. The 6th century mosaics
in the apse are spectacular and well worth viewing. Don't forget
to see the Florentine cupola erected in 1454. Carlo Fontana designed
the outer courtyard in 1705.
Maria della Consolazione, Piazza della Consolazione, 84. 8a-noon
daily (afternoons on request). Closed month of August. Tel. 678 46
54. (St. Mary of Consolation)
Located at the foot of the
Tarpeian Rock, which was the site of numerous public executions.
In 1385, an image of the Virgin Mary was placed here to give some solace
to condemned prisoners before their execution. Two gold florins were
paid by a condemned nobleman, Giordanello degli Alberini, for this icon
to be placed here. The church was then erected on this spot in 1470,
hence, the name. Between 1583 and 1606, Martino Longhi rebuilt the
church, adding the Baroque facade. The church has 11 side chapels
that are owned by families of nobility and local crafts guild members.
The famed image of Mary, by Antoniazzo Romano, is located in the Presbytery.
San Giovanni Decollato,
Via di San Giovanni Decollato, 22. (St. John Beheaded)
This church was built in
1490 under the reign of Pope Innocent VIII. G. Vasari's Beheading
of St. John, painted in 1553 is above the main altar in this strange
church. This church belonged to a Florentine fraternal order of priests
who dressed in black hooded robes. The mission of these priests were
to try to get prisoners to repent before being executed (usually by hanging).
In this way, the prisoner could obtain a Christian burial. There
are seven manholes in the cloisters that the bodies were put in (one manhole
was reserved for women). Check out the oratory for frescoes on
the life of St. John the Baptist by Francesco Salviati and Jacopino
del Conte (these resemble some of the figures in the Sistine Chapel).
Piazza Pietro d'Illiria, 1. 9a-1p and 330p-6p daily.
Compared to other churches
in Rome, Santa Sabina is rather bland inside, but well-lighted. This
church was founded in 422 AD by Peter of Illyria. It was restored
to its original charm in the early 20th century. This is a Dominican
church of the 13th century and there is a mosaic tombstone in the nave
of Munoz de Zamora who died in 1300, one of the original leaders of the
Dominican order. One of the earliest depictions of the crucifixion
that exists are found in the 5th century doors (side portico) that are
carved from cypress wood, each containing scenes from the Bible.
A spectacular panoramic view of Rome can be seen from the adjoining Orange
Park which is on the church grounds. Excellent photo op from the
Santi Bonifacio e Alessio,
Piazza di Sant'Alessio, 23. 830a-noon and 330p-630p (Oct-Mar 6p) daily.
The remains of the two Christian
martyrs that this church is dedicated to lie under its main altar.
The five-story bell-tower was built in 1217. Check out part of the
Bergondi staircase in the 18th century Baroque chapel. There is also
the well from Alessio's family home and the magnificent Byzantine Madonna
of the Intercession, which was brought to Rome from Damascus in the
10th century that is well worth seeing if you are in the area.
San Saba, Via
di San Saba. 7a-noon and 4p-7p daily.
This church is of the 10th
century. Major ancient remains can be seen in the portico.
The church is Greek in style and has three naves. There is a shorter
fourth nave that has 13th century frescoes of the Life of St. Nicholas
of Bari that are wonderful. Of special interest is the scene
of three naked young ladies laying in bed; they are saved by the gift of
a bag of gold from St. Nicholas, the future Santa Claus. The marble
inlay in the main door and the remains of the choir are 13th century.
This ancient church is well worth seeing.
Santi Giovanni e Paolo,
Piazza Santi Giovanni e Paolo, 13. 9a-11a and 4p-530p daily. (Church
of Sts. John and Paul)
This church is dedicated
to two Roman officer martyrs who once lived on this site. Giovanni
and Paolo served under Rome's first Christian emperor, Constantine.
They were beheaded in 362 AD after refusing to serve under the pagan emperor
Julian the Apostate. Of special interest is the ancient fresco Christ
and the Apostles, which can still be seen on the walls (you will have
to ask the Sacristan to open the door for you to view this marvelous fresco).
This church was built in the 4th century and still has a lot of the original
structure. The bell-tower was added by Nicholas Breakspeare in the
12th century. Breakspeare was the only English pope, who reigned
as Adrian IV. The base of the bell-tower was part of the Temple of
Claudius that stood here. The tomb slab in the nave marks the burial
place of Giovanni and Paolo, whose remains are in an urn under the High
Altar. Underneath the church, digging has found two houses of the
2nd and 3rd centuries, which were of two-story construction with some 20
rooms and many corridors. There are many well-preserved pagan and
Christian paintings here, well worth seeing. The arches on the left
of the church were part of 3rd century shops. This is an amazing
church because there are crystal chandeliers bordering both sides of the
central nave from the entrance to the church all the way up the sides and
to the High Altar (36 in all, 18 on each side). Well worth seeing!
San Gregorio Magno,
Piazza di San Gregorio. 9a-1230p and 330p-630p daily. (Church
of St. Gregory the Great)
This church looks more like
a palazzo than a church. Here, St. Augustine was sent to convert
England to Christianity and, therefore, the church is very important to
the English. San Gregorio Magno (St. Gregory the Great) built the
church in 575 AD. This was originally his house, which he turned
into a monastery. Giovanni Battista Soria restored it in 1629-33.
Sir Edward Carne is buried here. He came to Rome to get the pope's
consent for the annulment of Henry VIII's marriage to Catherine of Aragon.
There are also some ancient columns inside. In the Chapel of St.
Gregory is a smaller chapel thought to be his cell and houses his beautiful
throne which is a Roman chair of sculpted marble. There is also
a painting of the Virgin who supposedly spoke to St. Gregory in the Salviati
Chapel. Francesco Ferrari rebuilt the interior in the 18th century.
Santa Maria in Domnica,
Piazza della Navicella, 12. 9a-noon and 330p-7p (Oct-Mar 6p) daily. (St.
Mary by the Domnica - corruption of Dominicum, an archaic Latin word for
church, "House of the Lord", in use around the 3rd century A.D.)
This church takes its name
from a 16th century fountain in the piazza (small boat). The church
dates back to the 9th century and the coffered ceilings were added in the
16th century. Check out the 9th century mosaic of Virgin and Child,
where Pope Paschal I appears at the feet of the Virgin sporting a square
halo of the living. The Virgin is holding a handkerchief like a fashionable
lady of the Byzantine court (very unusual).
San Sisto Vecchio,
Piazzale Numa Pompilio, 8. 9a-11a daily. Closed month of August.
No cameras allowed.
This is an extremely small
church that was built in 1219. It was the first home of the Dominican
nuns. It has a superb 13th century bell-tower.
Santi Nereo e Achilleo,
Via di Porta San Sebastiano, 4. 10a-noon and 4p-6p Sat-Thurs.
Originally, this church
was built on the site where the bandage covering St. Peter's wounds fell
after fleeing the city. It was later rededicated to the 1st century
martyrs St. Nereus and St. Achilleus. On the arch are wonderful 9th
century mosaics. The pulpit rests on a huge porphyry pedestal which
was brought from the Baths of Caracalla. On the side nave wall are
gruesome paintings by 16th century artist Niccolo Pomarancio showing the
way in which the Apostles were killed.
San Cesareo, Via
di Porta San Sebastiano. Closed to the public.
This church is built over
2nd century Roman ruins. The church has been closed since 1988.
If you can gain entrance, the pulpit, altar, and throne are adorned with
beasts and birds. You can see the coat of arms of Pope Clement VIII
on the ceiling, who commissioned this church's restoration in the 16th
San Giovanni a Porta Latina,
Via di San Giovanni a Porta Latina. 8a-1230p and 330p-630p daily. Donation
is expected. (The Church of St. John at the Latin Gate)
Many restorations have been
made to this very old church. It was originally built in the 5th
century and later rebuilt in 720 and restored again in 1191. One
of the best examples of old churches in Rome and well worth visiting.
There is a beautiful 12th century bell-tower. You can barely see
remains of ancient medieval frescoes and 12th century frescoes showing
46 scenes from the Old and New Testaments, the finest of their kind.
Take a look at these frescoes. It is well worth the trip.
San Giovanni in Oleo,
Via di Porta Latina. (St. John in Oil)
This church is octagonal.
This church sits on the site where St. John was supposedly boiled in oil
and came out unharmed. The design of the chapel is either Bramante
or Antonio da Sangallo the Younger and is of the 16th century. Borromini
restored it later, altering the roof. On top of the roof is a cross
supported by a circle of roses, quite unique.
Giovanni in Laterano, Piazza di San Giovanni in Laterano, 4. One
of the four major churches in Rome. Church and cloister open 7a-7p (Oct-Mar
6p Mon-Fri) daily. Museum open 9a-1p and 3p-5p Mon-Fri. Admission
for cloister and museum.
(St. John of the Lateran)
This massive church is one
of the four major churches of Rome. The top of the facade boasts
huge statues of Christ and the Apostles. The side door on the right
of the facade is only open every 25 years during Holy Year. The current
Holy Door was designed and installed for the last pilgrimage year, 2000,
the Jubileum, and is quite impressive. Inside, huge statues of the
Apostles (six on each side) are in niches along the sides of the nave.
The 12th century fresco located in this Basilica, which had originally
been attributed to Giotto, was likely the work of his students. The
High Altar is absolutely breathtaking. Along the outside of the church
is a loggia where the Pope gives his blessing that is exposed to the elements
with beautiful ceiling frescoes. This church has survived two fires.
The interior is from the 17th century by Borromini and the grand facade
is by Alessandro Galilei of 1735. The Papal Altar in this church
was originally reserved for the Pope and only he could celebrate mass from
this pulpit. However, it is now used freely by other clergy to dispense
the Holy Sacraments. The Papal Throne in the apse is reserved only
for the Pope; in fact, he must take his seat there to become Pope
officially. The Gothic baldacchino dates from the 14th century.
The domed octagonal baptistry dates from Constantine's time (432 AD) and
is well worth viewing. Over the altar in the left transcept is a
gold image of the Last Supper. Behind the glass above the gold image,
one can see the Last Supper table. The residence of the
Popes until 1309 is also here (The Lateran Palace) and was rebuilt by Domenico
Fontana in 1586. In the piazza is an ancient obelisk and parts of
Sancta and Sancta Sanctorum (Sacred Steps), Piazza di San Giovanni
in Laterano, 14. 630a-1150a, 330p-645p (Oct-Mar 3p-645p) daily. THIS
IS A MUST SEE!
Also, the Association of
"Mater et Caput" of San Giovanni in Laterano offers to its pilgrims and
visitors an electronic audio guided tour, available in different languages,
which features the Archbasilica and its Cloister. A live, guided
tour is also available upon reservation, and features the Bapistery, Holy
Staircase (see below), Sancta Sanctorum, and achaeological excavations,
in addition to the Archbasilica and its Cloister. Private tours after
the closing time of San Giovanni in Laterano may also be arranged, by reservation
only. The Mater et Caput services are located in the main porch of
the Basilica beside the statue of Constantine in the Information Office.
You can write them at: Associazione "Mater et Caput", Piazza San
Giovanni in Laterano, 4, 00184 Rome ITALY c/o Canonica. You can also
telephone them at 39.06/698.86392, fax them at 39.06/698.73112, or email
them at email@example.com,
Be sure to let them know you saw this information on my web site.
Located across the piazza
from S. Giovanni in Laterano, in a building designed by Domenico Fontana
in 1589. It houses two surviving parts of the old Lateran Palace.
One is the pope's private chapel (Sancta Sanctorum) and the other is the
Holy Staircase (Scala Santa). The 28 steps, said to be those that
Christ ascended in Pontius Pilate's house during his trial, were brought
from Jerusalem by St. Helena in approximately 325 A.D. When the Lateran
Palace was destroyed in the late 16th century, Pope Sixtus V had the steps
moved to their present site. No foot may touch the holy steps, so
they are covered by wooden boards. They may be climbed but only on
your knees, a penance that is performed especially on Good Friday.
I have done this and it is such a rewarding and awesome feeling.
However, both the left and right side of the sacred steps are staircases
you can go up to see the chapels above. Other highlights of this
building include the sculpture,
Ecce Homo, by Giosue Meli in 1874.
The Scala Santa lead to the Chapel of St. Lawrence, or Sancta Sanctorum,
built by Pope Nicholas III in 1278. This chapel contains many important
relics, the most precious being an image of Jesus -- the
or "picture painted without hands", said to be the work of St. Luke, assisted
by an angel. The image was taken on procession in medieval times
to ward off plagues. For a picture of the Holy Staircase and a list
of prayers that should be recited while ascending the Staircase on your
knees, click here. A souvenir shop is
to the left at the top of the stairs.
Croce in Gerusalemme, Piazza di Santa Croce in Gerusalemme. 6a-1230p
and 330p-730p (Oct-June 630p) daily. THIS IS A MUST SEE! (Holy
Cross in Jerusalem)
Santa Croce in Gerusalemme
is not as close to all the other beautiful churches and sights in Rome,
but is well worth a subway ride to S. Giavanni (in Laterano) station and
a short walk to see it. While in the area, you can visit the Scala
Santa and Sancta Sanctorium, and San Giovanni in Laterano, one of the four
major churches of Rome. Back to Santa Croce in Gerusalemme.
Constantine's mother, St. Helena, founded this church in 320 AD on the
grounds of her private palace. She brought back many relics of the
Crucifixion from Jerusalem, which are on display in this church.
The shrine dedicated to the relics are located on a staircase going up
to the second level (the doorway to the left of the Sacristy). Among
the most important are: the crossbar of the Cross of the Good Thief,
which is under glass on the wall in the hallway going upstairs to view
the relics of the Crucifixion, and part of Pontius Pilate's inscription
in Latin, Hebrew, and Greek, "Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews".
Ascending the staircase (that actually makes one feel he or she is entering
an Egyptian Temple), you enter this magnificent room with five or six rows
of very old pews. On the far wall as you enter the shrine is a beautiful
cross embedded in lapis lazuli. On the vertical part of the cross
just under the crossbar, is a crystal section that houses one of the nails
that held Jesus' hand to the cross. Also here are a few of the thorns
from the Crown of Thorns, as well as the finger of St. Thomas. This
is an awesome sight to behold. As of 2003, I note that there is a
sign as you enter the True Cross hallway that no pictures are allowed;
however, there are ample postcards available for purchase in the church's
Santi Quattro Coronati
(Four Crowned Saints),
Via dei Santi Quattro Coronati, 20. 930a-noon and 330p-6p (Oct-Mar 930a-noon)
This used to be the bastion
of the pope's residence, the Lateran Palace. It is named for the
four Christian soldiers who refused to worship a pagan god. It was
built in the 4th century and rebuilt after the invasion of the Normans
in 1084. You can get special permission to visit the beautiful cloister,
which was built c. 1220, one of the earliest of its kind. Check out
the Chapel of St. Barbara, which has remnants of medieval frescoes.
Of special interest is the Chapel of St. Sylvester, which has frescoes
of 1246 depicting the conversion of Constantine to Christianity.
The story goes that Constantine was stricken by the plague (leprosy) and
was told in order to be cured he must bathe in children's blood.
Refusing to do so, he was supposedly visited by St. Peter and St. Paul
in a dream, who told him to find Pope Sylvester I (who reigned 314-35),
who cured him and baptized him. In the final scene, Constantine is
kneeling before Pope Sylvester I. These frescoes are worth seeing.
It also has a wonderful Carolingian bell tower.
Clemente, Via di San Giovanni in Laterano. 9a-1230p and 330p-630p
(Oct-Mar 6p) daily. Admission charge to excavations. (Church
of St. Clement)
Like St. Peter's Basilica
with different layers of history as you travel downward into the earth,
this church provides three layers and is well worth seeing. The present-day
church is of the 12th century. Underneath is the 4th century church.
Underneath that are ancient Roman buildings, including the Temple of Mithras,
Mithraism, an all-male fertility cult imported from Persia in the 1st century
BC. They were rivals to Imperial Rome and Christianity. The
upper levels of this church was dedicated to St. Clement who was the fourth
pope. He was exiled from Rome and drowned in Crimea by having his
feet tied to an anchor. Catacombs were discovered in 1938 dating
from the 5th and 6th centuries which contain 16 wall tombs. Be sure
to check this church out. There are a lot of things to see here.
Santo Stefano Rotondo,
Via di Santo Stefano, 7. 9a-noon Mon-Fri. No cameras allowed. (Church
of St. Stephen in the Round)
This is one of Rome's earliest
Christian churches and it is round. It was built between 468 and
483. Twenty-two columns support the inner area. The drum in
the center is 72 feet high and every bit as wide. The 22 windows
high on the walls illuminate the interior. Gruesome frescoes of the
16th century by Niccolo (Circignani) Pomarancio were added showing the
martyrdom of many saints, with the help of Antonio Tempesta. At this
church, he finally completed over 30 graphic depictions of martyrdom, showing
every gruesome method imaginable used to kill early Christians. These
gruesome paintings show the horrible deaths of the early Christian martyr,
including being boiled alive, fried, grilled, singed, crimped, eaten by
wild beasts/dogs, buried alive, torn into pieces by being tied to horses
going in all directions, being chopped up in small pieces with axes and
hatchets, women having their breasts torn with iron pinchers, their tongues
cut out, their ears screwed off, their jaws broken, bodies being stretched
on a rack, or skinned on the stake, crackled up and melted in fire while
being tied to a stake, and Charles Dickens said when he visited this church,
"these are among the mildest subjects". Check out the 7th century
mosaic in the first chapel on the left, Christ with San Primo and San
Martino ai Monti, Viale del Monte Oppio, 28. 7a-noon and 430p-7p
(Oct-Mar 430p-630p) daily.
(St. Martin in Monti - Rome's first district)
Built in the 4th century.
Rebuilt in the 9th century, and again by Pietro da Cortona 1635-1676. Ancient
columns and frescoes by G. Dughet are worth seeing. There is a fresco
of the old San Giovanni in Laterano, and one that shows old St. Peter's
before Borromini's redesign are here that is exquisite, by Filippo Gagliardi
at either end of the left aisle. This church was built on the site
over the house of a man of the 3rd century named Equitius who used to have
people come to worship here. It is difficult to locate, but the Sacristan
can lead you underneath the church to view the remains of this house.
Pietro in Vincoli,
(St. Peter in Chains), Piazza di San
Pietro in Vincoli, 4A. 7a-1230p and 330p-7p (Oct-Mar 6p) Mon-Sat, 845a-1145a
An incredible story ...
this church contains the chains (vincoli) that bound St. Peter during his
incarceration in Mamertine Prison (next to Santi Luca e Martina basilica
at the Forum). The chains were eventually taken to Costantinpole.
During the 5th century, Empress Eudoxia put one of the chains in a church
in Constantinpole and gave the other one to her daughter, Eudoxia, in Rome.
Her daughter gave her chain to Pope Leo I, who built St. Pietro in Vincoli
to house it. Many years later, the second chain was brought back
to Rome where it miraculously linked with the other already there.
They are enshrined in a beautiful tabernacle on the altar. A must-see!
This church is best known for Michelangelo's breathtaking Moses,
which was originally commissioned in 1505 for the tomb of Pope Julius II.
Michelangelo spent eight months looking for the perfect marble to sculpt
this tomb, but Pope Julius was so preoccupied with the building of the
new St. Peter's, he put this project on hold. He passed away in 1513,
and Michelangelo resumed work on the tomb and only finished the statues
of Moses and the
Dying Slaves before Pope Paul III had him
the project on hold a second time in order to start work on the Sistine
Chapel and Last Judgment. The original plan was for some 40
statues but there is only six niches for statues. The Dying Slaves
are in Paris and Florence, but
Moses in all his glory is here.
You would swear he is going to blink at you at any moment. The two
protruding masses coming from Moses' head look like horns but, in reality,
should be beams of light. The horns are a result of the Hebrew original
from the Old Testament that were wrongly translated. This marble
tomb facade is breathtaking and is a must-see. Also, check out the
picture frame on the opposite wall in front of the High Altar that has
skeletons holding up the frame. Very strange.
Via Urbana, 160. 8a-noon and 4p-7p (Oct-Mar 3p-6p) daily.
There is a beautiful 11th
century frieze with medallions on the facade of this church. It is
built over the house of a 1st century AD Roman senator named Pudens.
According to tradition, Pudens allowed St. Peter to stay here. In
the 2nd century, the site became a bath house, and in the 4th century,
a church was built inside the baths. This was known as Ecclesia
Pudentiana (Church of Pudens). In time, it was assumed that Pudentiana
was a woman's name, and a life was created for her. She became the
sister of Prassede. Even though both saints were declared invalid
in 1969, they retained the names of the churches (Santa Pudenziana and
Santa Prassede). Be sure to check out the 4th century mosaic in the
Maria Maggiore, one of the four major churches in Rome, Piazza
di Santa Maria Maggiore. 7a-8p daily; Oct-Mar 7a-7p (last admission 15
minutes before closing).
(St. Mary Major)
Built in 431 AD, the apse
was rebuilt in the 13th century. Confession in front of the Papal Altar
contains the presumed relics of the Nativity. Santa Maria Maggiore is also
known as Santa Maria ad Praesepe (St. Mary of the Manger), Santa
Maria ad Nives (St. Mary of the Snows),
for its founder). Under the altar is a crypt housing the remains
of St. Matthais, who was the Apostle that was chosen to replace the vacancy
left by Judas Iscariot. In front of the confessio housing part of
the manger is an outstanding kneeling statue of Pope Pius IX. Sistine
Chapel (not to be confused with the famed Sistine Chapel which is located
at the Vatican); Tombs of Popes Pius V, Sixtus V, Paul V, Cardinal Rodriquez
(1299), and Clement VIII. The Baldacchino of the 1740s was built
by Ferdinando Fuga.
Prassede, Via Santa Prassede, 9A. 730a-noon and 4p-630p daily.
Reconstructed in 822 AD.
The Crypt (apply at the Sacristy) with sarcophagi and a 3rd century altar.
Chapel of S. Zeno, one of the most important monuments (Byzantine) in Rome.
Part of the altar was brought from Jerusalem in 1223. Said to be that to
which Jesus was bound in the flagellation. Not far from Santa Maria
Maggiore, I had the privilege of seeing this beautiful basilica for the
first time in 2002, and it is truly awesome. The Cosmati flooring
is spectacular and the Chapel of St. Zeno ceiling with its original mosaics
are breathtaking. I highly recommend seeing this basilica!
Via Giovanni Giolitti, 154. 7a-10a and 5p-6p daily. Call first: 446
This is a very small church
at the end of Stazione Termini along via Giovanni Giolitti and contains
one of Bernini's early sculptures of the martyr Santa Bibiana (1626), the
first fully clothed figure Bernini sculpted. Note the statue is holding
the cords supposedly used to beat her to death. Bernini also constructed
the facade, his first attempt at architecture. The church itself
was constructed over the ruins of the family palace. The saint was
buried here after being strapped to death with leaded cords during the
persecution of Christians in 361-63 AD. The column just inside the
entrance to the church is said to be that to which Bibiana was strapped
to. The remains of her, her mother (Dafrosa), and her sister (Demetria)
are in an alabaster urn below the altar.
Piazza dei Santi Apostoli. 630a-noon and 4p-715p daily. (Church
of the Holy Apostles)
A 15th century church
was built over the original 6th century one. One of the most interesting
features inside this church is Canova's massive
Tomb of Pope Clement
XIV with the Figures Humility and Modesty of (1789). Also inside
is Canova's memorial to engraver Giovanni Volpato of 1807. The Tombs
of Apostles James and Philip are in the crypt under the massive altarpiece
Domenico Muratori. Also of special interest is the painting
Angels by Giovanni Odazzi which give the 3D effect of actually falling
from the sky.
San Marcello al Corso,
Piazza San Marcello, 5 (on Via del Corso). 7a-noon and 4p-7p daily.
This was one of
the first churches in Rome to hold Christian services. The building
was rebuilt by Jacopo Sansovino after it burned down in 1519 and he added
a single nave with many private chapels adorning the sides. The nave
holds the Tomb of Cardinal Giovanni Michiel and his nephew, Bishop Antonio
Orso, also by Sansovino.
Santa Maria in Trivio,
Piazza dei Crociferi, 49. 810a-noon and 4p-730p daily. (St. Mary
of the Three Crossroads)
It is said that
the translation of the name of this church is St. Mary's At the Meeting
of Three Roads. It boasts a fine example of 16th century Italian
facade work. Note that all the windows are false. The ceiling
frescoes inside the church are by Antonio Gherardi (1644-1702).
Over the years, the word Trivio has been amended to Trevi. This is
where the famed Trevi Fountain gets its name. This very small church
sits behind the famed Trevi Fountain on the left as you face the fountain.
Santi Vincenzo e Anastasio,
Vicolo dei Modelli, 73. 630a-noon, 330p-730p daily.
The facade of this
church is by M. Longhi and boasts six Roman columns, three on each side
of the door and three overhead. This church faces the famed Trevi
Fountain. The church was built in 1650. It was commissioned
by Cardinal Raimondo Mazzarino, whose coast of arms are in between the
two sets of columns above the doorway.
Bernardo alle Terme, Via Torino, 94. 6a-630p daily. (St.
Bernard by the Baths)
This church was
once one of the four towers that was part of the corner of the gigantic
Baths of Diocletian and is round. Contessa Caterina Nobili Sforza
is entombed under the 18th century marble altar. She is responsible
for turning the tower into a church. You will also note that the
dome resembles the Pantheon in that the very top is open to permit light
to enter the structure. There are also statues of saints by Camillo
Mariani (1567-1611) inside. It is directly across the street from
Santa Suzanna and around the corner from Santa Maria della Vittoria and
the Moses Fountain.
Sant'Andrea al Quirinale,
Via del Quirinale, 29. 10a-noon and 4p-7p Wed-Mon. Closed Tuesday and month
of August. Tip expected by Sacristan for showing St. Stanislas's rooms.
Andrew of the Quirinale)
This small church
has the most exquisite interior made of roseate marble. It is oval
in design by Bernini and was built between 1658 and 1670 for the Jesuits.
There is a marble St. Stanislas Kostka by Pierre Legros (1666-1719)
well worth seeing as well as the richly decorated dome. It is alongside
the Presidential Palace next to the Quirinale Gardens.
San Carlo alle Quattro
Fontane (St. Charles at the Four Fountains), Via del Quirinale,
23. 9a-noon Mon-Sat and 4p-6p Mon-Fri. Built by Borromini.
What is unique about
this church is the dome is lit only by concealed windows. It was
designed by Borromini in 1634 (one of his very last works) and commissioned
by the Spanish Trinitarians and completed in 1667. The church is
also known as San Carlino (dedicated to Cardinal Carlo Borromeo) and is
so small it can fit into one of the piers of St. Peter's. Borromini
commited suicide in 1667 and in the crypt is reserved a chapel for him,
but still remains empty. Off the sacristy is a
painting of Borromini
wearing the Spanish Trinitarian cross as well.
Santa Maria dei Monti,
Via Madonna dei Monti, 41. 7a-noon and 5p-730p Mon-Sat, 10a-11a Sun. and
public holidays. (St. Mary on the Mountain)
This church was
designed by Giacomo della Porta in 1580. The dome is of particular
importance. Also contains the Tomb of St. Benoit-Joseph Labre,
who died here in 1783 (left transept altar). The clothes (actually
tattered rags) he wore are well-preserved as relics.
Maria degli Angeli, Via Cernaia, 9. 8a-1230p, 4p-630p. (St.
Mary of the Holy Angels)
Built in 1566 by
Michelangelo who adapted the ancient Tepidarium of the Baths of Diocletian.
The Central Nave is enormous - 290 feet long, 89 feet wide, and 92 feet
high - with huge pillars. The eight monolith red granite pillars
are ancient. The Tomb of Marshal A. Diaz (1928) is also here.
Once inside, the interior is massive and quite beautiful.
Santi Domenico e Sisto,
Largo Angelicum, 1. Open by appointment only. Closed July through
This church is unique
in that it has twin staircases leading to the entrance. One of the
chapels inside was done by Bernini (first chapel on the right) with a magnificent
group of Mary Magdalene and Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane.
There is a gigantic fresco by Domenico Canuti (1620-84) that fills the
ceiling called Apotheosis of St. Dominic.
Sant'Agata dei Goti,
Via Mazzarino 16 and Via Panisperna. 7a-9p and 530p-7p Mon-Sat, 7a-noon
on Sunday. (St. Agatha of the Goths)
Goti means Goths,
who occupied Rome in the 6th century A.D. and the church was founded shortly
after 470 A.D. You will find the exquisite columns made of granite,
which date from this time. There is a 12th century tabernacle and
a courtyard that was built around a well, now covered in ivy. Quite
Maria della Vittoria, Via XX Settembre, 17. 630a-noon and 430p-630p
daily. No cameras. (St. Mary of Victory)
By C. Maderno in
1620. If you are a Bernini follower, the fourth chapel contains the famous
marble group, The Ecstasy of St. Teresa, (1646) and is a must-see.
Note the marble sculptures of patrons in box seats as though viewing a
theatrical performance to the side of this masterpiece.
Maria della Concezione
(St. Mary of the Conception),
Via Veneto, 27 at Piazza Barberini. 7a-noon and 345p-730p. Crypt open 9a-noon
and 3p-6p. Donation expected.
Built by Cardinal
Antonio Barberini, who was Urban VIII's brother, in 1626. Cardinal
Barberini was a Capuchin friar. He is buried is a simple grave under
the altar where there is a tombstone with the inscription in Latin, "Here
lies dust, ashes, nothing." As churches go, this is a very plain
one, unlike most of the churches in Rome which are very ornate. Of
special interest is is the macabre Capuchin crypts beneath the church (see
below) which are incredible.
Crypts. Built in 1616. Five underground chapels with a macabre
furnishing of the skeletons and bones of about 4,000 Capuchin friars in
intricate ornate ceiling and wall Baroque patterns. An incredible sight.
Pictures can be found of these chapels on my Photo Gallery page.
Open summers 9a-noon and 3p-6p, winter 930a-noon and 3p-6p). There
are no cameras allowed and a 'small donation' is expected. Postcards
have been available for purchase.
Suzanna, Piazza San Bernardo. 9a-noon, 4p-7p Mon-Sat, 10a-noon
The facade of this
church was finished in 1603 by Carlo Maderno. The church is built
on the site that has been the spot where Christians have worshiped ever
since the 4th century. One of the most interesting things aby Santa
Suzanna are the four frescoes that have been painted to resemble tapestries.
These were done by Baldassarre Croce (1558-1623). This is also the
Catholic church for Americans in Rome.
Outside the Ancient Walls
fuori le Mura (St.
Agnes Outside the Wall), via Nomentana 349, Mon.-Sat. 9am-noon and
4-6pm Tues. and Sat., 4-6pm public holidays and Sundays. Admission
Built in the 4th
century as a small sanctuary on catacombs where lay the remains of the
saintly martyr. Inside, impressive ruins, vast basilica, built by
Constantia, daughter of Constantine. Constantia had leprosy and it
is rumored that she often prayed at the Tomb of St. Agnes here for healing
from the disease. Descend to the catacombs of St. Agnes (admission
9a-noon and 4p-6p). The catacombs are among the best preserved. She
was buried here in 304 A.D. This group of buildings also include
a covered cemetery. In the apse is a gold mosaic of St. Agnes with
a pope on each side.
via Nomentana 349, located at Sant'Agnese fuori le Mura, same hours as
Sant'Agnese fuori le Mura, admission charge.
This is a 4th century
church with a breathtaking circular interior. It was built as a mausoleum
for Constantia and Helena, Constantine's daughters. You will find
the original porphyry sarcophagus of Constantia in the Vatican Museums
(moved there in 1790) but a replica is in one of the niches.
San Paolo fuori le Mura
(St. Paul's Outside the Wall),
Via Ostiense 186. 7:30a-6:40p daily. The last admission is
15 minutes before closing time, so don't wait until the last minute.
This church is one
of the four patriarchal churches of Rome (the other three are St. Peter's,
San Giovanni in Laterano, and Santa Maria Maggiore). It is pretty
far out so I recommend taking the Metro to San Paolo and it is across the
street. The original basilica (4th century) was destroyed by fire
in 1823 and was rebuilt. Only a few of the original fragments remain.
Of note is the marble canopy by Arnolfo di Cambio (1285) which is
over the high altar The confessio below the altar contains the Tomb
of St. Paul. Be sure to check out the spiral columns of the cloisters
which were built by the Vassalletto family in 1214 and survived the fire.
Also the beautiful gold mosaics by Pietro Cavallini which were originally
on the facade and were moved to the nave.
San Lorenzo fuori le Mura
(St. Lorenzo Outside the Wall),
Piazzale del Verano, 3. Sat-Tues. and Thurs. 7a-noon and 3:30-6:30p.
St. Paul's design is that
of a five-aisled church, unlike most of Rome's basilicas, which were built
having three aisles. Separating the central nave from the four side
aisles are 80 colossal granite columns. Above these columns all the
way around the interior of the Basilica are mosaic portraits of all the
Popes, from the first to the present. Only the current pope's portrait
is illuminated. Tradition tells that when this Basilica runs out
of space for these portraits of the popes, the world will end. There
are only eight vacant circles left as of 2003. If you know the story,
this is quite an eerie feeling.
church is located outside the eastern wall near the Campo Verano cemetery.
St. Lorenzo was slowly burned to death in 258 A.D. The first church
was built over where he was buried and was rebuilt in 576. Next to
it is the Church of the Virgin Mary (5th century) and both
of these churches have been integrated into a single structure. This
was accomplished between the 8th and 13th centuries. Of note is the
grand bell tower. Allied bombers badly damaged this church during
World War II, but it has been restored. St. Lorenzo's remains are
under the altar of the original 6th century church.
partial listing of churches in all of Rome (including those listed above),
both Catholic and non-Catholic,click