The Churches of Rome, Italy of course!

Seeking refuge in  previous trips, I remember been convince to go to Italy. Well been there on several business trips but never thought of vacationing. The boys and their historical perspective probably gotten from me, told me about how about Rome huh! the mother already visited it while single so it was a natural thing to go as a family. And so we did , Rome we came.

The structures are typical of what you can find in Europe, very old, historical, great architecture the food etc. I found the most unique element the Churches, after all whether we believe or not ,they mark the cultural essence of a country looking thru the Churches. And Rome has plenty, about 900 of them!!! ; I would like to tell you our favorites.

Oratorio dell’Angelo Custode, or more like the Oratory of the Angel in Custody. It is currently from the 18C in the Piazza Poli, 11 on the Via del Tritone. The original Church here was from 1576 but changes and demolition this is what is left today. It is extremely decorated inside.

Rome

Then you have the Church Santi Ambrogio e Carlo  in the via del Corso ,437. It used to be the national Church of the Duchy of Milan, but since unification of Italy has been the regional Church of Lombardy. It ,also, contains the Chapel of St Olav, the national shrine in Rome for expatriates and pilgrims from Norway.

Rome

The Basilica dei Santi XII Apostoli or Church of the 12 Holy Apostles. It is a 6C Church parish and titular and  minor basilica dedicated originally to St James and St Philip whose remains are kept here,and later to all the Apostles. Today, the basilica is under the care of the Conventual Franciscans whose headquarters in Rome is in the adjacent building.

Rome

Coming up to the Basilica Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri or the Basilica of St Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs . The Basilica is dedicated to the Christian martyrs known and unknown. By a brief of 1561 Pope PIus IV ordered the Church built to be dedicated to the Most Blessed Virgin and all the Angels and Martyrs. This came from a vision in the ruins of the Baths in 1541 by a Sicilian monk; the story that these Martyrs were Christians slave labourers who had been set to constructing the Baths; it is also the personal monument of Pope Pius IV whose tomb is in the apsidual tribune.

Rome

The imposing Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere or Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere. One of the oldest Churches in Rome. The basic floor plan and wall structure of the church date back to the 340s, and much of the structure to 1140-43. The first sanctuary was built in 221 and 227 by Pope Callixtus I and later completed by Pope Julius I.

Rome

Santi Cosma e Damiano. or Church of St Cosme; it is on the east side of the Roman Forum on via dei Fori Imperiali 1. It was an important church and was the main entrance that used to be of the Roman Forum. The main body of the Church was formed from an ancillary building in the south corner of the Temenos enclosure of the Temple of Peace that occupied the south east part of the Imperial For a and the fabric of the Church is the only part of it to survive above ground.

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We went up to Basilica di Santa Sabina All’Aventino. or Basilica of Saint  Sabina. It is perched high above the Tiber river to the north and the Circus Maximus to the east. It is next to small public park Giardino degli Aranci (Garden of Oranges), which has a scenic terrace overlooking Rome. It is a short distance to the headquarters of the Knights of Malta.  Santa Sabina is the oldest extant Roman basilica in Rome that preserves its original colonnaded rectangular plan and architectural style. Its decorations have been restored to their original restrained design.

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The wonderful Cathedral Santissimo Salvatore e Santi Giovanni Battista ed Evangelista in Laterano or Cathedral of the Most Holy Savior and of Saints John the Baptist and the Evangelist in the Lateran. It is the oldest and highest ranking of the four Papal major Basilicas, giving it the unique title of Archbasilica. Because it is the oldest public church in the city of Rome, and houses the cathedra of the Roman bishop;  it has the title of Ecumenical Mother Church of the Catholic faithful.

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Santa Maria di Montesanto is another jewel in the Piazza Popolo at the entrance to the Via del Corso ,there is another Church here but apparently we like this one better.Santa Maria in Montesanto, erected over a church with the same name that lay at the beginning of Via del Babuino, was occupied by Carmelite monks. The name Montesanto (Holy Mountain) referred to Mount Carmel in Israel.  The construction of the present church was begun on July 15, 1662.

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The Scala Santa or Holy Stairs are a set of 28 white marble steps that are Roma Catholic Relics located in an edifice on extraterritorial property of the Holy See in Rome near the Archbasilica of St John in Laterano (St Giovanni).  Officially, the edifice is titled the Pontifical Sanctuary of the Holy Stairs (Pontificio Santuario della Scala Santa). The Holy Stairs, which long ago were encased in a protective framework of wooden steps, are in an edifice that incorporates part of the old, Papal Lateran Palace. The Holy Stairs lead to the Church of St Lawrence in  simply the  Sancta Sanctorum or Holy of Holies, which was the personal chapel of the early Popes.

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The Basilica di Sant’Alessio all’Aventino  was built in the 3C to 4C to honored Saint Boniface of Tarso and Saint Alessio of Rome with a location at piazza Sant’Alessio, 23.

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Church of San Rocco is a church at 1 Largo San Rocco, dedicated to Saint Roch.  It is next to theMausoleum of Augustus. Founded in 1499 by Pope Alexander VI as the chapel of an adjacent hospital, it was rebuilt in 1657 , and later changes were made introducing the Neo-Classical style to it. A new, Palladio influenced façade  was built in 1832.

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Sant’Andrea al Quirinale or  Church of Saint Andrew’s at the Quirinal. It was built for the Jesuit seminary on the Quirinal Hill .The Church of Sant’Andrea is an important example of Roman Baroque architecture.  Ordered to be built in 1658 and the church was finished by 1661, although the interior decoration was not finished until 1670. The site previously accommodated a 16C church, Sant’Andrea a Montecavallo.

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We continue to the Church of Saint Bosco or Giavanni Bosco; a minor basilica located at Viale dei Salesiani, 9; the main entrance is on the Piazza San Giovanni Bosco. The basilica is on a monumental axis overlooking a large square (piazza San Giovanni Bosco) which is continued by the wide Viale San Giovanni Bosco to another large square, piazza dei Consoli. The Church was under the care of the Salesians of which St John Bosco was the founder.

Rome

And we arrive at the  Basilica di Santa Croce in Gerusalemme or Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem.  It is one of the Seven Pilgrim Churches of Rome. According to tradition, the basilica was consecrated circa 325AD  to house the  relics of the Passion of Jesus Christ brought to Rome from the Holy Land by Empress St Helena, mother of Roman Emperor Constantine I . At the time, the Basilica’s floor was covered with soil from Jerusalem, thus acquiring the title in Hierusalem; it is not dedicated to the Holy Cross which is in Jerusalem, but the Basilica itself is “in Jerusalem” in the sense that a piece  of Jerusalem was moved to Rome for its foundation.

Rome

Church of St Francis di Assisi à Ripa; The first Church dedicated to St Francis , was finished in 1603. you can see the cell where he slept and the rock he used as a pillow in 1219 as well as his crucifix.  Rebuilt several times the latest is in 1680. Very nice Church.

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Another one, Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo al Celio or Basilica of Saints John and Paul. An old basilica of Rome located on the Caelian Hill. The church was built in 398AD, by will of the senator Pammachius  over the home of two Roman soldiers, John and Paul martyred under the emperor Julian in 362. The church was thus called the Titulus Pammachii and is recorded as such in the acts of the synod held by Pope Symmachus in 499. It is home to the Passionists and is the burial place of St Paul of the Cross. Additionally, it is the station Church of the first Friday in Lent.

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The closer to home San Luigi dei Francesi or Church of St. Louis of the French. It is not far from Piazza Navonna square.  The Church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, to Saint Denis the Areopagite and St Louis (king Louis IX of France). Designed and built between 1518 and 1589, and completed through the personal intervention of Catherine de Médici who donated to it some property in the area. It is the National Church in Rome of France ,and the current Cardinal-Priest is André Vingt-Trois ,Archbishop of Paris.

Rome

Church Santa Maria in Traspontina  is a Carmelite church on the Via della Conciliazione ,the main road of the neighborhood of Borgo, San’Angelo 15. The church was established as a cardinalatial titulus by Pope Sixtus V in 1587. The dedication is to the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of Our Lady of Carmel. the Chapel of St Knud (king Canute IV) is the National Shrine of Denmark.

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Basilica Parrocchiale Santa Maria del Popolo or Parish Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo.  It stands on the north side of Piazza del Popolo (people’s square) . The church is hemmed in between the Pincian Hill and Porta del Popolo,  one of the gates in the Aurelian Wall  as the starting point of Via Flaminia. The church contains works by several famous artists, such as Raphael, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Alessandro Algardi, Pinturicchio, Andrea Bregno, Guillaume de Marcillat, and Donato Bramante . There is a legend involving Santa Maria del Popolo revolves around the evil memory of emperor Nero and Pope Paschal II cleansing the area from this malicious legacy. To be read fully.

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Church Santa Maria dei Miracoli was begun in 1675 and finished in 1681.  It is located in the Piazza del Popolo by Via del Corso With a circular plan, it has an elegant 18C  bell tower, and an octagonal cupola. The interior has a rich stucco decoration. The monuments for Cardinals Benedetto and Gastaldi done as well  for the cupola and the lamp. The dedication is to Our Lady of the Miracles because of a miraculous icon of her over the high altar.

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And we continue…. Basilica di Santa Maria in Cosmedin or Basilica of Saint Mary in Cosmedin. The church was built in the 8C, during the Byzantine Papacy, over the remains of the Templum Herculis Pompeiani in the Forum Boarium ,and the Statio annonae, one of the food distribution centers in ancient Rome.  Santa Maria in Cosmedin was the titular Church  of the Popes Gelasius II and Celestine III ,  as well as antipope Benedict XIII. Among the former titular cardinal deacons of the church was Reginald Pole, the last Roman Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury.

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Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore or Basilica of Saint Mary Major.  This is a major one to see. It is a Papal Major Basilica and the largest Catholic Marian Church in Rome from which size it receives the  title Major. The basilica enshrines the venerated image of Salus Populi Romani , depicting the blessed Virgin Mary as the help and protectress of the Roman people, which was granted a Canonical coronation by Pope Gregory XVI in 1838 accompanied by his  Papal bull Cælestis Regina.  Pursuant to the Lateran Treaty of 1929 between the Holy See and Italy, the Basilica is within Italian territory and not the territory of the Vatican City State. However, the Holy See  fully owns the Basilica, and Italy is legally obligated to recognize its full ownership thereof and to concede to it “the immunity granted by International Law to the headquarters of the diplomatic agents of foreign States.

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Another one closer to home is the Church of the Santissima Trinità dei Monti, often called merely the Trinità dei Monti  or in French La Trinité-des-Monts done in  late Renaissance.  It is best known for its commanding position above the Spanish Steps which led down to the Piazza di Spagna (Spain square). The Church and its surrounding area (including the Villa Medici  are the  responsibility of the French Republic. In 1502, king Louis XII of France began construction of the Church of the Trinità dei Monti next to a monastery, to celebrate his successful invasion of Naples. During the Napoleonic occupation of Rome, the Church, like many others, was despoiled of its art and decorations.  In 1816, after the Bourbon restoration , the Church was restored at the expense of king Louis XVIII. As a plus in  front of the cCurch stands the Obelisco Sallustiano,  moved here in 1789. It is a Roman obelisk in imitation of Egyptian ones, originally constructed in the early years of the Roman Empire for the  Gardens of Sallust near the Porta Salaria. The hieroglyphic inscription was copied from that on the obelisk in the Piazza del Popolo known as Flaminio Obelisk.

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Church Santa Maria di Loreto  built in the 16C  located just across the street from the Trajan’s Column near the giant Monument of Vittorio Emanuele II. After the Jubilee of 1500, the association of bakers (Sodalizio dei Fornai) received permission from Pope Alexander VI  to built a church at this site. Construction of this church began in 1507  with an octagonal floor plan; the dome and the lantern were completed  some 75 years later. The church was built atop an earlier 15C chapel, which contained an icon of the Virgin of Loreto, since the church retained the icon and acquired the title.

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Sant’Agnese fuori le mura or Church of Saint Agnes Outside the Walls What are said to be the remains of Saint Agnes are below the altar. The Church is built over the Catacombs of Saint Agnes, where the Saint was originally buried, and which may still be visited from Church permission. A large basilica with the same name was built nearby in the 4C and its ruins can be seen near Santa Costanza (via Nomentana) in the same site. The existing Church was built by Pope Honorius I in the 7C and largely retains its original structure, despite many changes to the decoration.

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There you go , and this is just a sampler we saw and took pictures; there are soo many. Anyway this is Rome, the cradle of the Catholic Church so should  be no surprises. The history ,architecture and just beauty are enough to bring you in regardless of your beliefs. They are an integral part of any visit to Roma! Hope you have enjoy it as we did/do. And see in search my posts on Rome ok.

An remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!

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2 Comments to “The Churches of Rome, Italy of course!”

  1. Goodness you visited a lot of churches! I think I’m up to about 30 after 7 visits and have many more on my to do list! I’ve blogged about a few of them but I think my favourites are St Paul’s Outside the Walls and Santi Maria degli Angeli. Santi Cosma and Damiano is really special too because of the location, while I always regret that I didn’t have time to ecplore Santa Maria Sopra Minerva properly!
    I’ll definitely come back to your post to get some inspiration when I’m planning my next visit 😁.


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