The Basilica of Santa Francesca Romana Near Colosseum

Anyone visiting Rome in Italy is bound to take a trip to Colosseum; the Flavian Amphitheatre (largest, at the time) erected from tuff, travertine limestone and brick-faced concrete. It seats up to 80,000 spectators. On your way to this gigantic amphitheatre, you will pass over, another marvellous building – the Basilica of Santa Francesca Romana. Earlier identified as Santa Maria Nova, this Roman Catholic Church, is an eloquence, built in the 8th-century under Pope Paul I, in the colonnade of the previous Temple of Venus and Roma. Santa Maria Nova was named so, in the 10th-century, to differentiate it from Santa Maria Antiqua, another church that had befallen into a wreck by then. Thereafter, Pope Leo moved the relics from the ancient church to this one.

Santa Francesca Romana

This church was expanded in the late 10th-century and restored in the 13th-century by Pope Honorius III. He added the free-standing Italian bell tower – the campanile, and the apse, a large polygonal recess. He also decorated Santa Maria Nova with a mosaic Maestà, an impression of Madonna enthroned by saints. Olivetans cared for this church from 1352. In the 16th-century, Santa Francesca Romana was appropriated, to Frances of Rome, as consecrated in the relics of 1608. In 1615, Carlo Lambardi designed, what is present day’s travertine porch/façade. Lombardi also reconstructed the core with side chapels, preceding 15th-century canonization. The ancient inscriptions inside the church are an estimable source depicting its choice history. Walk towards the centre of the church and you will notice a right-angled schola cantorum, cloaked in Cosmatesque mosaics. Another noticeable feature is the 16th-century “enclosed stall,” designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. It features varied-coloured marbles with four columns coated in jasper. Altarpieces are compositions of Padre Pozzi, Pietro Tedeschi and Subleyras.

Legends tell that at this site both Saints Paul and Peter called upon the Gods to dare Simon Magus, a pagan who desired to prove his powers were greater. The basalt stone imprints of the missionaries knees are embedded, in the south transept wall. In 1887, Saint Maria Nova was restored, as the “Titulus of a Cardinal Priest” by Pope Leo XIII, however, the labels of the church continue to be Sancta Mariae Novae. A Cardinal-Priest (now the Cardinal Protector) no longer has authority over his labelled church or its ministry. The present-day, Saint Francesca Romana, is termed the champion of car drivers, for locals believe that an angel lighted her way with a lamp when she wandered around this site at night. To partake in the blessing, wheels line up on 9th-March each year, as far as the Colosseum.

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