Santa Bibiana is a small Baroque style church. The church façade was designed and built by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, who also produced a sculpture of the saint holding the palm leaf of martyrs.
According to an ancient, not documented tradition, the church was built in 363 by Roman matron Olimpina on the house where, during the supposed persecution of emperor Julian (361-363), Bibiana, her mother Dafrosa and her sister Demetria would have suffered martyrdom.
On the other hand, according to the Liber Pontificalis the church was erected in 467 under the pontificate of Pope Simplicius. Pope Leo II (682-683) moved there the relics of Martyrs Simplicius, Faustina and Viatrix from the Generosa Catacombs. The same Pope built in the surroundings (iuxta Sanctam Vivianam) a church consecrated to Saint Paul, no longer extant. The church was restored by Pope Honorius III in 1224.
The present facade was designed and built by then 26-year-old Gian Lorenzo Bernini in 1624-1626, as commissioned by Pope Urban VIII. The columns lining the nave are from the original 5th-century church.
The bodies of St Bibiana (Viviana or Vibiana), her mother Dafrosa and her sister Demetria were discovered inside a 3rd-century sarcophagus, and now rest inside an alabaster urn under the major altar. The column just inside the church is said to be the one Bibiana was strapped to.References:
Built around AD 90 to entertain the legionaries stationed at the fort of Caerleon (Isca), the impressive amphitheatre was the Roman equivalent of today’s multiplex cinema. Wooden benches provided seating for up to 6,000 spectators, who would gather to watch bloodthirsty displays featuring gladiatorial combat and exotic wild animals.
Long after the Romans left, the amphitheatre took on a new life in Arthurian legend. Geoffrey of Monmouth, the somewhat imaginative 12th-century scholar, wrote in his History of the Kings of Britain that Arthur was crowned in Caerleon and that the ruined amphitheatre was actually the remains of King Arthur’s Round Table.
Today it is the most complete Roman amphitheatre in Britain.