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- Category: Travel Destinations
Rome persecuted the Church but was ultimately conquered by it and has become the traditional home to the successors to Peter. Rome possesses the traditional and heritage of the Christian Church through the centuries.
Rome is home to the Vatican City, the Pope and more than 400 churches.
The Church of Santa Maria Antiqua
The Church of Santa Maria Antiqua is the oldest church in the Forum, and the nearby Church of San Pietro in Carcere is on the site of the Mammertime Prison, where St Peter is believed to have been imprisoned and to have created a miraculous stream of baptismal water.
Santa Maria Maggiore
Santa Maria Maggiore dates from the 5th century but has a baroque façade and Romanesque bell tower.
San Giovanni in Laterano
San Giovanni in Laterano is Rome's cathedral and home to the preserved heads of St Peter & St Paul. Everywhere you look in this magnificent church (one of the four patriarchal basilicas of Rome), there are tesserae, tiny tiles of colored marble and gold, telling Biblical stories, from the nave to the apse.
Santa Croce in Gerusalemme
Santa Croce in Gerusalemme dates from the 4th century but was remodelled in the baroque style; it contains what are thought to be fragments of the true cross.
Santa Maria in Cosmedin
Santa Maria in Cosmedin is one of the finest medieval churches in Rome and is also famous for the Bocca della Verità (Mouth of Truth), an ancient Triton mask set into an exterior wall.
Church of L'Immacolata Concezione
The crypt of the church of L'Immacolata Concezione is decorated entirely with the bones of more than 4,000 dead monks; skulls and scapulas are piled high to make arches, grottoes and columns.
San Paolo Fuori le Mura
The blaze of 1823 almost completely devastated the original basilica of San Paolo Fuori le Mura (St. Paul's Outside the Walls), which dated back to the 4th century. The reconstructed basilica, full of color, preserves the original design of a vast rectangle divided in five aisles.
The 12th-century basilica of San Clemente effortlessly combining elements of a 4th-century church, an imperial Roman palace, and a Mithraeum.
Santo Stefano Rotondo
Contains frescoes all around the interior detailing the martyrdoms of dozens of saints, told in explicit graphic detail, from the stoning of St. Stephen to the steaming of St. Cecilia.
The quiet, cool interior of Santa Sabina on the Aventine Hill makes it a great place to escape the tourist crowds that permeate the rest of Rome. The shady park nearby also provides a wonderful view over the city to the Vatican.
Santa Maria in Trastevere
Though this basilica has been added onto multiple times over the centuries, the basic floorplan and wall structure of Santa Maria in Trastevere dates back to the 340s AD. The granite columns that line its nave were pillaged from the by-then defunct Baths of Caracalla in the 9th century. The apse features gorgeous and important mosaics by Pietro Cavallini.
Santa Croce in Gerusalemme
Here you can marvel at the items St. Helen brought in her knapsack from a 4th-century trip to the Holy Land. The inventory includes a piece of the true cross (hence the name of the church), some thorns from Christ's crown, and some soil from Calvary.
San Pietro in Vincoli (St. Peter in Chains)
Most tourists are drawn here for the presence of Michelangelo's Moses, but for the faithful, the most important thing in this basilica is the glass box holding the chains that bound Peter in his cells in Judea and Rome. According to legend the chains miraculously welded themselves together in the Middle Ages.
Sant'Agnese in Agone
Apart from being designed by the Baroque master Borromini and being located on one of Rome's most important and touristed squares, this basilica also offers the attraction of the Sacra Testa (Holy Head) of St. Agnes in a side chapel. Go across town to the basilica of Sant'Agnese Fuori le Mura on the Via Nomentana to find the rest of her body.
San Lorenzo in Lucina
This church near the Spanish Steps has works by such Baroque masters as Bernini and Guido Reni, but what will really convince you to visit is the ancient grill preserved here, supposedly the very gridiron on which St. Lawrence was barbecued to death in the 3rd century.
SS Vincenzo e Anastasio
Most visitors ignore this little Baroque church as they gawk instead at the humongous Trevi fountain which dominates the square. But little do these people know that inside this church are the spleens, pancreases, and livers of all the popes from Sixtus V (1590) to Leo XIII (1903).
Santa Maria Sopra Minerva
Here lies the body of St. Catherine. After her death, it was separated from her head, which remained in Siena, the town where she was born.
Santa Cecilia in Trastevere
First they tried to suffocate Cecilia in the hot steam room of her own baths, then when that didn't work they tried to chop off her head, but after three strokes of the axe they could not completely sever her head from her body. She managed to stay alive for three more days, all the while singing hymns to the glory of God—one reason why she is now the patron saint of music. Check out the marble statue of Cecilia’s body as it was found in 1599, complete with scars from the failed decapitation attempt.
The catacombs are subterranean systems of rock-cut hallways and niches, built to house the bodies of the dead who could not afford a flashy tomb above the ground. The most well-known are the Christian catacombs concentrated along the Via Appia Antica, although there were pagan and Jewish catacombs as well. Scholars are divided as to whether t he catacombs also served as secret places of meeting and worship in the period when Christianity was outlawed.