We were honored to be able to have a glimpse into the remarkable life of Mother Teresa. The Convent that houses the Sisters of Charity of Calcutta is within the confines of the Church of San Gregorio (near Circus Maximus). Here is the inside the small, sparce "cell" that was Mother Teresa's room. We are working on an album that will show more of her days in Rome.
Less than a two minute walk from Santa Maria Maggiore, one of the "pilgrim" basilicas, and one of the most famous churches in Rome, stands a smaller jewel of a church - Santa Prassede. Don't miss what may be the best mosaics you'll find in Rome.
The picture I've included is of the apse mosaic behind the main alter. My camera couldn't do justice to the Chapel of St. Zeno, to the right of the altar as you face it. Bring along some .50 euro coins to turn on the lights and be prepared to be delighted. It is literally like stepping inside a jeweled box. The mosaics date from the 9th century and are in the Byzantine style, which is uncommon in Rome. You'll see a resemblance to the mosaics of Santa Cecelia in Trastevere if you go there.
You'll also find a broken marble pillar, said to have been brought back to Rome by St. Helen, the mother of Constantine, the first Christian Roman Emperer. It is supposed to be the pillar at which Jesus was scourged before he was crucified.
The floor, which is 20th century, is still an exquisite version of the Cosmati floors.
If you take a look at the photo, you'll see most of the halos are round - but the one on the far left is square. This indicates that the person being represented wasn't dead at the time the mosaic was being completed.
Address: 9/a Via de Santa Prassede/Via San Martino ai Monti
Normally open daily 07.30-12.00 and 16.00-18.30.
For more information check out:
The crypt of the capuchins is found in the Church of the Immaculate, on Via Veneto, 27. There is a small fee. There are 6 crypts lined up on one side of a narrow hall. The crypts are decorated with the bones of deceased friars. There are thousands of bones arranged along the walls and ceilings. The picture shown is from the Crypt of the Skulls. Another crypt is named Crypt of the Pelvises. Then there is the Crypt of the Leg Bones and Thigh Bones, and Crypt of the Three Skeletons. Hours are: 9-12 and 3-6, closed on Thursdays. No pictures allowed. (This picture is from a postcard)
There are bizarre and macabre chapels of this cemetery, where the decorative elements - from the picture frames to the light fittings - are all made of human bones.
The crypt is located just under Santa Maria della Concezione, a church commissioned by Pope Urban XIII in 1626
Hours: Fri-Wed 9:00am-12:00pm & 3:00pm-6:00pm
After mistakenly entering the Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria I did manage to make my way a few doors south on Via Settembre to the American Church of Santa Susanna. It was crowded and Mass was in progress - in English and accompanied by a full choir singing and the music of Easter. A wonderful double "doubting Thomas" First Sunday after Easter. The two churches were both designed by the same architect, Giovanni Battista Soria (a favorite architect of Cardinal Scipione Borghese) but depict very different styles.
The American Catholic Community in Rome has been a thriving parish for 80 years. They provide a home-away-from-home for English-speaking people living in Rome and their mission states their calling to be a place of welcome. There is a volume of information and extraordinary services for the visitor - including a web form to request a Papal audience or blessing. Check them out before you come to Rome.
The Church is open every day from 9 to 12 Noon and again from 4 to 7 PM. Rome churches are closed in the afternoon.
(photos courtesy Roberto Piperno)
This church, newly restored and only recently re-opened, is unmissable. It's an entirely different experience to the magnificent grandiosity of so many Roman churches.
Tucked away between the Colosseum and San Giovanni in Laterano, it's hard to believe that this quiet (ish) area is so near the centre of the modern city. The round church really is ancient; it was built in the 460s AD.
It's a hugely atmopheric place, its two concentric rings of columns touched by the light that floods in through the 22 windows. There are four chapels (all closed off when I visited, for restoration work is ongoing, so that the structure forms a cross shape. Some of the original Roman black-and-white mosaic flooring has been left in situ, and the whole structure overlies and earlier Mithraeum (as is often the case in Rome).
Around the inner wall are frescoes of martyrs, showing in detail the manner of their deaths. Fascinatingly gruesome, and an indication of the workings of the Medieval religious mind (they date from the sixteenth century).
It's worth taking some time out to visit this church: it is really special. My travelogue has more photos:
Via Santo Stefano Rotondo runs from Piazza S. Giovanni in Laterano, or you can access it by walking up Via Claudia from the Colosseum (it's on the right). The church is at the Via Claudia end, but the entrance isn't very obvious (which is why I've put it as the main photo). Open usual Roman church times, roughly 7/8 - 12 and 3- 7.
The catacombs where the young Santa Agnes was laid to rest after her martyrdom in 304AD became a place of pilgrimage almost immediately after her death and when Constantine's daughter Constantia was cured (legend says of leprosy) by praying to the saint they became important enough for an imperial princess herself to be entombed there. Constantia ordered the building first of a baptistry (where she and her sister Helena were baptised) and later a funerary hall over the catacomb, but a princess requires a grander burial place than this and so a mausoleum was raised over the site and decorated in style befitting her noble ancestry.
Now known as the Chiesa di Santa Constanza (although she neither officially canonized not, in fact buried here, she died before it was completed) the mausoleum was more probably used for the burial of Helena, who was both the daughter of one emperor and the wife of another. Constantia's body was moved here to lie beside her sister in a magnificent porphyry sarcophagus. Her body was later buried beneath the central altar and the building consecrated as a church in her name.
The church is circular, with 12 pairs of elegant pillars supporting the dome and a barrel-vaulted ambulatory set with delicate mosaics of fruit and flowers, birds and beasts, the oldest surviving Christian ones known. Although not all have survived - those in the dome were said to be of astonishing beauty but were destroyed in the 17th century and a now-fading frescoed ceiling put in their place - the ones that remain give us an idea of just how lovely this little building must have been. The symbols used have significance to both pagan and Christian beliefs - an intriguing reminder of the duality of Constantine's position at this time. Later mosaics (6th or 7th century) in the niches are totally Christian and considerably less sophisticated in their execution though their original borders remain and give some idea of the richness of the images these have replaced.
You can acces the church either through a gate in the far corner of the garden of the adjacent Basilica of Saint Agnes or via a short road at th end of the wall around the church garden. The church looks best in afternoon light but it is a popular wedding venue so you may have to wait before you can enter.
Open: Monday 0900-1200; Tuesday-Saturday: 0900-1200, 1600-1800; Sunday: 1600-1800
The church can be found in the area known as Nomentana, a short distance outside the city walls, north-east of Termini.
Address: Via Nomentana 349. Take Bus #36 from Termini or #60 from Piazza Venezia
This is the strangest thing I have ever seen. It is a dedication to death. And yes, those are all real bones from the monks who lived there and believed in this order. The dirt was transported from Jerusalem. Even the lightbulb holders were made from bones!
It is called the Cemetery of the Capuchins-3rd Chapel and located at Via Veneto 27.
La Maddlena- ay dios mio, I feel like it is my little secret, but I guess I can share. Okay, so anyone who has read anything about Rome knows about the Pantheon, one of the most touristed sights in the city. Well, now I'm going to tell you about this adorable little church only steps away that almost nobody discovers. Say you are facing the Pantheon. Turn around. There are two streets leading away from the pantheon in this direction, take the one on the right. Walk about a block until you come to a little piazza with Ristorantte Clemente and a very beautiful, ornate church. That church would be La Maddalena. Go inside, becasue it will be the best thing you do on your entire trip to Rome. I did this after reading a little article about the church and I am so thankful for that. it is the most beautiful church I have ever seen in my life. Everything is golden and perfect and beautiful in every way. I swear I sat in there for nearly an hour looking around. While I was there, the organ player even began to play. it was wonderful. Do youself a favor, and dig just a little deeper into Rome, and you will be greatly rewarded.
A lovely, tucked-away church on the Celian Hill. Only 10 minutes walk from the Colosseum, but very peaceful.
Giovanni and Paulo were two weathy-ish Romans who were beheaded on the spot (their houses) in 361AD, because they refused military service. What is supposed to be their house(s) is accessible under the church (the Case Romane: see tip), along with part of a Roman street.
The two were supposedly buried on the spot of their martyrdom, so the church has a shrie marking the spot. It also has lots of chandeliers and is a popular church for weddings. There was one when I visited, which meant I couldn't really explore it properly (it would have been somewhat intrusive!), but I think it would be worth a visit.
The separate campanile is very pretty: some of its decorative ceramic discs were originally ancient Arabic plates !): they are now displayed in the Case Romane museum. Underneath the campanile is part of a massive temple to Claudius.
On Clivio de Scauro; access from Via Claudia (on the right at the top of the hill) or from Via di S. Gregorio (on the left with the Colosseum behind you).
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