San Crisogono Church

Rome, Italy

San Crisogono in Trastevere is dedicated to the martyr Saint Chrysogonus. It was probably built in the 4th century under Pope Silvester I (314–335), rebuilt in the 12th century by John of Crema, and again by Giovanni Battista Soria, funded by Scipione Borghese, in the early 17th century.

The bell tower dates from the 12th century rebuilding. The interior of the church was rebuilt in the 1620s on the site of a 12th-century church. The 22 granite columns in the nave are reused antique columns. The floor is cosmatesque mosaic, but most of it is hidden by the pews. The confessio in the sanctuary area is from the 8th century. The high altar is from 1127, with a baldachino from (1627 or 1641) by G.B Soria.

Remains from the first church, possibly from the reign of Constantine I, and earlier Roman houses can be seen in the lower parts, reached by a staircase in the sacristy. The ruins are confusing, but you can easily find the apse of the old church and you can see the remains of the martyr's shrine in middle of the apse wall. The church had an uncommon form; rather than the normal basilical plan with a central nave and two aisles on the sides, it had a single nave.

The paintings are from the 8th to the 11th century, and include Pope Sylvester Capturing the Dragon, St Pantaleon Healing the Blind Man, St Benedict Healing the Leper and The Rescue of St Placid.

Several sarcophagi have been preserved here, some beautifully decorated.

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Founded: 4th century AD
Category: Religious sites in Italy

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Steph Grima (2 years ago)
Beautiful and intricate basilica. Simply stunning. The condition of the entire building is in perfect state, from floor to ceiling.. indoors and outdoors. Lovely, and underrated... not sure why!
Francis Tiso (2 years ago)
A peaceful jewel in Trastevere where one can meditate very well. Excellent cosmatesque floor.
linda payson (2 years ago)
Not terribly exciting. Nice mosaics on the floor.
Nilesh Dodiyar (3 years ago)
Nice underground besilica and probably the first parish church in Rome.
G J (3 years ago)
You’ve got to check out this basilica and especially the excavation beneath! You will pay a couple of euro to a man sitting near the sacristy who let you down the stairs into another world! A relatively new excavation with not a lot of monitoring or signage you can see the remnants of ancient art work the ancient pagan and Christian homes that the Basilica is built on top of, water cistern that probably served as a baptismal font, sarcophagi, etc. really amazing. Go!
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Quimper Cathedral

From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

The three-level elevation with arches, triforium and galleries seems more uniform and expresses anglo-Norman influence in the thickness of the walls (Norman passageway at the gallery level) or the decorative style (heavy mouldings, decorative frieze under the triforium). This building site would have to have been overseen in one shot. Undoubtedly interrupted by the war of Succession (1341-1364) it draws to a close with the building of the lierne vaults (1410) and the fitting of stained-glass windows. Bishop Bertrand de Rosmadec and Duke Jean V, whose coat of arms would decorate these vaults, finished the chancel before starting on the building of the facade and the nave.

Isolated from its environment in the 19th century, the cathedral was – on the contrary – originally very linked to its surroundings. Its site and the orientation of the facade determined traffic flow in the town. Its positioning close to the south walls resulted in particuliarities such as the transfer of the side gates on to the north and south facades of the towers: the southern portal of Saint Catherine served the bishop’s gate and the hospital located on the left bank (the current Préfecture) and the north gate was the baptismal porch – a true parish porch with its benches and alcoves for the Apostles’ statues turned towards the town, completed by an ossuary (1514).

The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.