Wednesday, October 11, 2006

San Clemente in Laterano

San Clemente in Laterano

This photo of the San Clemente in Laterano is part of one of the panoramic images found on the Tour of Rome. There are over 100 images taken from around Rome linked to an interactive map.

Full 360° panorama of the Basilica di San Clemente

San Clemente
lies almost hidden on the Via San Giovanni in Laterano, which connects the Colosseum with San Giovanni in Laterano. It is easy to pass the church without much of a second thought as the entrance is inconspicuous and set into a bland wall. In fact the entrance is a side door, which opens directly into the basilica. The plain façade and main door is off to the right, and opens onto a pleasant courtyard or quadroporticus, one of the few remaining, in which concerts are sometime held.

The first church on site here dates from 4C, but was burned down in by the Normans and then rebuilt in 1108. Since 1667 the Irish Dominicans have been the caretakers of San Clemente after being outlawed and evicted from Britain. The building has both an upper and lower church.

The ceiling of the upper church is decorated with the Triumph of St Clement, and in the center of the nave stands the choir stalls, as seen here in the picture. This also contains the Schola Cantorum which originally was found in the lower church. Behind this you can just see a baldacchino. The apse and area around the altar is packed with 12C mosaics, most obvious here are the 12 companions and Lamb of God that follow the curve. Above these symbols of aspects of Christianity.

Off to the right, at the end of the aisle, is the chapel of St. John the Baptist which contains a 16C statue by the same name. Both this and the other chapels in the church contain numerous frescoes and paintings throughout the ages.

If all this history was not enough, the lower church holds yet more. You descend to a frescoed narthex into a structure dating from the late 1C. This structure contains in inscription claiming it to be the property of T.Flavius Clemens. It may have at one time been part of a home that functioned as a meeting place for Christians, a common practice in early Christianity. Some frescoes and other works of art here are over 1,600 years old. The first basilica was built here over a Mithraeum, a shrine to Mithras, a god popular with the Roman Army but fell out of favor during the time of Constantine. The Mithraeum is still accessible, as are parts of other walls and structures dating from the 1C.

A full panoramic image showing the inside of S Clemente (upper church) and the entrance to the lower church is found on the Rome tour by An enlargement of this photo can be found on Flickr.

For more articles on Rome see the Rome Index or select one of the labels at the bottom.

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