Monday, September 30, 2013

BASILICA OF St. PANCRAS

BASILICA S. PANCRAZIO
Founded about 500 by Pope Symmachus (498/514) on the tomb of the martyr St. Pancras beheaded, according to tradition, during the persecutions of Diocletian (285/305)
In the sixth century it became the fourth most popular destination for pilgrims who visited the graves of the martyrs in Rome after St. Peter, S. Paul and St. Lawrence
Completely rebuilt in about 630 for Honorius I (625/638)
The Romans used to pronounce solemn oaths at the tomb of St. Pancras because it was believed that perjurers would have died on the spot, an earlier and more radical version of the Mouth of Truth. Even a pope, Pelagius I (556/561), suspected of having had his predecessor assassinated, pronounced here a solemn oath in front of the Byzantine viceroy
Renovated 1609 for Cardinal Ludovico de Torres, Archbishop of Monreale, who gave a diplomatic contribution to the victory at the Battle of Lepanto by connecting the Papal States to the other Christian powers
Restored again after the battle for the Roman Republic in 1849
The two columns in the fa├žade are from the early church
Wooden CEILING 1627
CENTRAL NAVE
Stucco frieze with "Putti holding up a banner" 1662
SIDE NAVES
"Eight large relief" in stucco executed in 1662
TO THE RIGHT OF THE PRESBYTERY
Frescoes "Stories of St. Pancras" 1959 by Giuseppe Ciotti (1898/1991) from the Friuli region
On either side of the upper part of the presbytery frescoes "Sts. Dionysius and Pancras" on the right and "Sts. Calepodius and Pancras" on the left by Antonio Tempesta (about 1555/1630)
TABERNACLE with "Four porphyry columns with Corinthian capitals"
Fresco in the APSE "Christ the King surrounded by St Pancras and other saints" 1959 by Giuseppe Ciotti
SEMICIRCULAR CRYPT under the presbytery dating back to the beginning of the sixth century leading to the relics of St. Pancras. After St. Peter's Basilica is the oldest example of this type in Rome
CHAPEL TO THE LEFT OF THE PRESBYTERY
Altarpiece "St. Teresa" 1615 by Jacopo Negretti aka Jacopo Palma the Younger (1544/1628)
"Baptismal font" from the church Sts. Celsus and Julian, where Eugenio Pacelli later Pope Pius XII (1939/58) was baptized
SACRISTY
Small MUSEUM with sculptures and inscriptions, both pagan and Christian, and some fossils
Catacomba di S. Pancrazio o di Ottavilla
Catacomb of St. Pancras or Ottavilla
Ottavilla was a Roman woman who, according to tradition, recovered and buried the body of St. Pancras
Huge underground cemetery with many levels and areas still unexplored
Ornamental paintings in two cubicles and chapel known as Botrus
Here was found an inscription dated 454, which is considered the last dated inscription found in situ referring to an ordinary burial in an underground cemetery. At the end of the fourth century and at the beginning of the fifth, in fact, the use of burying the dead in the catacombs became increasingly rare, and increased the use instead of burials in the great Roman funerary basilicas like this one or in their vicinity

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