Well after this weekend, my bracket is officially busted. Blast... Heartbreaking that both state teams went down the same day. Can't dwell on it too much or it'll ruin my day! In other news, a quick note that I bought my plane ticket home yesterday. So it's official, June 13th I'll be back in the Mitten! Woot woot! Now onto regularly scheduled programming.
Santi Quattro Coronati
Today we had a bit of a surprise at the church of the Four Crowned Saints. Italy lags a bit behind the States, so we just 'sprung forward' last weekend. Nice that we have some extended daylight in the evenings now, but we're back to walking in the dark to our daily station church. I think today's church may have been our farthest walk yet; Four Saints is located just a bit beyond the basilica of San Clemente, which is already way out past the Colosseum.
So when we arrived at this old church, we discovered there was a power outage in that neighborhood of the city because no lights were on. Since it was still before sunrise, the church was lit up with candles instead. I believe the hip description for that would be, "rustic and vintage". Actually it was really cool, it's a very different atmosphere in the candlelight.
Digital cameras have a really hard time taking low light pictures. That top one is about how dark it was when I walked in, but the window light in the sanctuary is overexposed in the picture, so imagine a more subdued twilight coming through instead. I sat down in the back and took a long shutter shot of the sanctuary, so the second pic much brighter than real life, but you can get an idea of the space.
The story of this church's title actually comes from two groups of folks. Both groups were martyrs during the Roman persecutions (like practically every other church we've seen!). The first group were four soldiers, Severus Victorinus, Carpophorus, and Severinus, who refused to take part in pagan worship and were killed for this in the persecutions of the Emperor Diocletian. The second group was made up of five stonemasons, Claudius, Nicostratus, Sempronianus, Castor, and Simplicius, who were put to death for their refusal to carve a statue of the god Asclepius which would be used for pagan worship.
The oldest parts of the current building come from the fourth century. Around the 630 Pope Honorius I dedicated the first church on this site, which was restored by Pope Hadrian I in the late eighth century. A century later Pope Leo IV undertook a more complete rebuilding and placed the relics of many martyrs in a crypt beneath the main altar, including those of the four soldiers and the five stonemasons.
Along with many other building in the area, this church sustained heavy damage during the Norman invasion of 1084, so Pope Paschal II rebuilt the church, retaining the previous apse but making the new nave markedly smaller; he consecrated it in 1116. In 1560 Augustinian nuns took up residence here, where they have remained up to the present day. The apse fresco comes from the 1620s, which was the last major renovation / redecoration of this church. Beneath the apse fresco are additional frescoes that depict the suffering, death, and burial of the soldiers and stonemasons. One other random fact: the skull of St. Sebastian is found in a small niche above the altar on the left side of the sanctuary (the one you always see depicted in art tied to a pole with arrows shot into his body).
You walk through two courtyards to get to this church. The inner courtyard used to be part of the nave before it was rebuilt. Walking out was a nice view of the sunlight coming through the entrance, and a nice shot of the cloister facade that is attached to this church.