Santa Francesca Romana Church

Rome, Italy

Santa Francesca Romana church was built in the second half of the 10th century, incorporating an 8th-century oratory that Pope Paul I excavated in the wing of the portico of the Temple of Venus and Roma. It was rebuilt by Pope Honorius III in the 13th century, when the campanile was built and the apse was decorated with mosaics of a Maestà, the Madonna enthroned accompanied by saints. The interior has been altered since. Since 1352 the church has been in the care of the Olivetans. In the 16th century, the church was rededicated to Frances of Rome, who was canonized in 1608 and whose relics are in the crypt. Its travertine porch and façade is by Carlo Lambardi, and was completed in 1615.

The interior, a single nave with side chapels, was rebuilt by Lombardi beginning in 1595. In the middle of the nave is the rectangular schola cantorum of the old church, covered in Cosmatesque mosaics. Another prominent feature is the confessional designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1638-49), in polychrome marbles with four columns veneered in jasper.

The church houses the precious Madonna Glycophilousa ('Our Lady of Tenderness'), an early 5th-century Hodegetria icon brought from Santa Maria Antiqua. The twelfth-century Madonna and Child that had been painted over it was meticulously detached from the panel in 1950, and is now kept in the sacristy.

The ancient oratory on which the current church was built was located by Pope Paul I on the place in which Simon Magus died. According to this legend, Simon Magus wanted to prove his powers as stronger than those of the apostles, and started levitating in front of Sts. Peter and Paul. The two apostles fell on their knees preaching, and Simon fell, dying. The basalt stones where the apostles were imprinted by the knees of the two apostles and are embedded in the wall of the south transept.

The tomb of Pope Gregory XI, who returned the papacy to Rome from Avignon, reconstructed to a design by Per Paulo Olivieri (signed and dated 1584) is in the south transept.



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Founded: 10th century
Category: Religious sites in Italy


4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Angelo Serra (11 months ago)
This beautiful baroque church is kind of off the beaten path, mainly due to the construction for the metro nearby. It is very quiet as there don't seem to be many visitors even when the streets not 100 meters away are teeming with people. A visitor will find a very beautiful apse, a stone slab where Saint Peter had knelt, the tomb of Pope Gregory XI, and a number of mosaics. Peaceful, beautiful, and unassuming.
P G (13 months ago)
Some places are unassuming and have a graceful soul. Calming, quiet basilica with beautiful mosaics on the main chapel. The inner sanctum crypt is also beautiful and calming. Quieter and smaller than most churches, but the artwork is a gorgeous combination of baroque and mediaeval. Closes at noon, reopens at 5pm. The church bells are beautiful at noon, with the church tower lending a tall vista that echoes across the forum.
Susan Judkins Josten (13 months ago)
I attended a family member’s wedding here in late August 2022, which was a thrill after wondering about the church in past visits to the colosseum and forum. It’s an exquisitely preserved historical church, and could not have provided for a more beautiful and meaningful ceremony.
Karthik (14 months ago)
Nice church just besides Roman Forum. It's free entry here and interior is very good. When looking at ceiling we get an idea of how good it is. We noticed it by chance when we went in wrong direction for Roman Forum entrance, but was good.
Chris M (16 months ago)
Really beautiful Basilica dedicated to Frances of Rome next to the Forum. Site where according to legend St Peter kneeled and left the imprints. From a large window you can see an exhibit in the Forum. You can illuminate the arch with the mosaic for a couple of coins. The place is really haunting and mystical. The picture does not do it justice unfortunately.
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