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KT May 21st, 2004 05:19 PM

Oh dear, I hope it won't ruin anyone's day to learn that the blue vault of Sta. Maria Sopra Minerva is part of the 19th century "restoration," which was a kind of super-bright super-Gothicization similar to what the Victorians did to old English churches.

MMM May 21st, 2004 07:38 PM

I would add San Clemente, not far from San Giovanni in Laterano, because of its several "layers" of church that contain some faint wall paintings in the lower church. Also, Sant'Agostino in Campo Marzio has a colorful interior and is located a short walk from the Pantheon.


Underhill May 21st, 2004 08:04 PM

San Clemente, si! And for something completely different, San Stefano Rotundo--a round church, not in very good shape these days, with huge wall frescoes of the martyrdoms of various saints. It's an amazing sight.

susiel May 21st, 2004 09:03 PM

Great thread everyone! Does anyone know which church is supposed to be the one that the apostle Paul died in? I believe there is catacombs where he was supposed to have been imprisoned.....

bmillersc May 22nd, 2004 04:05 AM

Two others we found excellent, but have already been mentioned by others, but will second them anyway: Il Gesu, and Santa Maria in Trastevere.

Alec May 22nd, 2004 04:26 AM

St Paul was supposed to have been beheaded at Tre Fontane, now a Trappist monastery a short way from EUR exposition centre.
I don't know about his imprisonment (according to NT he was kept under a kind of house arrest?), but for a time his and St Peter's remains were hidden in the catacombs of St Sebastian during persecutions.

platzman May 22nd, 2004 05:40 AM

It would be inconceivable to me to visit Rome and not see all 4 major basilicas of the Roman Catholic Church:
St. Peter's
St. Mary Major
St. John Lateran
St. Paul Outside the Walls
They are all outstanding in their own ways and well worth a visit. There are also at least 15 to 20 other churches in Rome not to be missed if you have time. I've barely scratched the surface and have spent a total of 2 months in Rome.

ChatNoir May 22nd, 2004 05:58 AM

Platzman wrote: There are also at least 15 to 20 other churches in Rome not to be missed if you have time.

Don't be a tease - tell us what they are. We are not lucky enough to live there.

CafeBatavia May 22nd, 2004 08:57 AM

The church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin is located in the Piazza Bocca della Verità.

The church is also called Santa Maria in Scuola Greca, because mass is celebrated according to the Greek Orthodox tradition.

In Antiquity there was an open air altar dedicated to Hercules, and in the 3rd century a chapel ws build on top of the ruins. This chapel was incorporated into a 6th century church, which in turn was enlarged and restored by Hadrian I in the 8th century. Hadrian I gave the church to greek monks that had escaped iconoclasm in Constantinoble, and it has been a Greek Orthodox church since then. The church was later restored after the sacking of Rome by Robert Guiscard in 1082. The tower was added in the 12th century.

Under the portico there is the (in)famous Bocca della Verità.

Inside the church is divided in three naves by 18 ancient and medieval colunms of varying designs and sizes. Above the altar is a canopy by Deodato di Cosma the Young from 1294. The floor is from the 8th century, and further decorated by the Cosmas in the 13th century.

In the sacristy there is a mosaic dating from the 8th century, originating from the first Saint Peters.

CafeBatavia May 22nd, 2004 09:00 AM

Santa Croce in Gerusalemme (Holy Cross in Jerusalem). 12 Piazza di Santa Croce in Gerusalemme.

The church was consecrated about 325, in an older building that was rebuilt to house the Passion Relics brought to Rome by St Helena. The façade is from the 18th century, in the Baroque style.

If you walk around the church, it is still possible to see the original Roman masonry in some places and the ruins of a medieval cloister. The Passion Relics were transferred to a new chapel: Two thorns from the crown of thorns, A nail from the Crucifixion, Splinters of the True Cross and part of the good thief's cross.

The church was included in the pilgrims' itinerary, and later became a Jubilee basilica.

CafeBatavia May 22nd, 2004 09:12 AM

Basilica of the Santi Quattro Coronati and the medieval cloister.

Be sure to visit the chapel of San Silvestro with its beautiful fresco cycle. You need to ring the bell and a nun will appear behind a grate. Ask her for the chiave to the chapel and she will put it in a turntable next to the grate. A small donation is expected. Try to go in the early evening and you can sit in the church and her the nuns singing vespers.

Eloise May 22nd, 2004 09:17 AM

The early Christian churches of Rome are fascinating and too often forgotten. San Clemente has been mentioned, but not Santa Sabina (with Corinthian columns taken from a Roman building, mosaics, and a 5th-century wooden door with scenes from the New Testament, including one of the earliest known representations of the Crucifixion), Santa Prisca (near Santa Sabina on the Aventine), Santi Quattro Coronati (near San Stefano Rotondo, which has been mentioned), San Marco (a tiny 9th-century church in or near Palazzo Venezia).

I second Sant'Agnese (on via Nomentana, not Borromini's Sant'Agnese in Agone in Piazza Navona) and the small round Santa Costanza that adjoins it (originally built to hold the tomb of Santa Costanza, with rounded vaults covered in mosaics that are fascinating because their iconography is more classical than Christian).

Anoter vote also for Borromini's exquisite Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza (located within the Palazzo della Sapienza, entrance from Corso Rinascimento).

At San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, do not miss the cloister.

The cloister at San Giovanni in Laterano with its exquisite Cosmatesque columns should be visited, if only to bemoan the vandalism of tourists who, since I first visited it in 1966, have destroyed the decoration of roughly half the columns...

EyeSpyEurope May 22nd, 2004 09:25 AM

CafeBatavia: Where is Santi Quattro Coronati located? I don't know this church but shall check it out on my next visit to Rome. Do you know when the church closes because I'll take your advice and go in the early evening when the nuns are singing vespers. If they are cloistered, I imagine they are either Poor Clares or Carmelites. Do you know?

CafeBatavia May 22nd, 2004 09:31 AM

Chiesa Nuova is a highly ornate Baroque church. Just off Via del Governo Vecchio. Principal features include three paintings by Rubens and Pietro da Cortona?s ceiling paintings.

Behind the church, the delightful small square of Piazza del Orologio is so-called because of the quaint clocktower that is its main feature. The clock is part of the Oratorio dei Filipini, designed by Carlo Borromini, which backs onto the Chiesa Nuova and is part of the same complex.

Just off the square, there?s a scatter of antique and bric-a-brac shops, that signal that you?re just around the corner from Rome?s antiques ghetto, Via dei Coronari.

CafeBatavia May 22nd, 2004 09:38 AM


20 Piazza dei Santi Quattro Coronati

I think its a convent of Augustinian nuns. Not sure when it closes.

nanb May 22nd, 2004 02:25 PM

It doesn't matter to me if the ceilings in the Santa Maria sopra Minerva are 100 yrs old or 500 yrs old.
The color of the blue and it's beauty is still breathtaking to me.
But, that is something I had no idea about and is interesting.

ChatNoir May 23rd, 2004 06:14 AM

Thanks again for all the great feedback. I'm going to do some research and try to add a few more.

I plan to group them by location and take a couple of long morning walks to check them out. Might be a good rainy day option as well.

ChatNoir May 23rd, 2004 06:30 AM

Visit San Clemente - 12th Century Brasilica sits atop a 4th Century christian church which sits atop a 2nd Century Mithraic Temple. Several deep tunnels, an underground stream and burial place of St. Cyril.

On via San Giovanni. Metro: Colosseo.

ChatNoir May 23rd, 2004 06:36 AM

Attend mass at Santa Susanna - the church of the American community in Rome?

Santa Susanna seems broad and spacious, filled with light and awash with pastel colors. The nave is richly frescoed with huge figures, classical vistas and luminous green gardens, and speckled with light golden stucco-work throughout.

ChatNoir May 23rd, 2004 06:37 AM

Enjoy a taste of the macabre. A little way up Via Veneto, the Capuchin church of Santa Maria della Concezione contains a Capuchin cemetery which is one of the more bizarre sights of Rome.

The bones of 4000 monks are set into the walls of a series of chapels, a monument to "Our Sister of Bodily Death", in the words of St Francis, that was erected in 1793. The bones appear in abstract or Christian patterns or as fully clothed skeletons, their faces peering out of their cowls in various twisted expressions of agony - somewhere between the chilling and the ludicrous.

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