Sant’Eusebio all’Esquilino Church Rome
Address, Opening Hours and Admission
Address: Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, 12/a – Rome (Tel: +39 06 4466170). Opening hours: Weekdays: 07.30 till 09.30 (08.30 till 09.30 in summer) and 18.15 till 19.15; Sundays and holidays from 08.30 till 12.30 (08.30 till 11.30 in summer) and from 18.15 till 19.45. Admission: Free.
- January 17 (yearly event): In front of the church the feast of Sant’Antonio Abate is celebrated. During this event the blessing of the animals takes place. Because of traffic problems this is not done at the nearby Sant’Antonio Abate Church itself.
The Chiesa di Sant’Eusebio all’Esquilino is one of Rome’s oldest churches, having been built in the 5th century. The earliest reference tot the church, an inscription in the catacombs underneath the SS. Pietro and Marcellino Church, dates back to the year 474. It is dedicated to Saint Eusebius of Bologna, who financed its construction and was (probably) starved to death under Constance II. His relics are buried beneath the High Altar. He is also thought to have lived on the spot where the church now stands.
Though already dedicated to Eusebius, it was Pope Zaccaria who, in 750, adapted the building and had it turned into an official church.
Reconstructions took place in 1238 (under Pope Gregory IX, who consecrated the church in the same year) and later again in the year 1711, when the facade (a portico with 5 vaults) was altered in order to facilitate the creation of Piazza Vittorio Emanuele. The architect who adapted the facade was Carlo Stefano Fontana.
Meanwhile, a convent had been built next to the church. When the religious order of the Celestines, which does not exist anymore, came to live there in 1588, they enlarged this building. It used to contain one of Rome’s first printing offices.
The interior, with its three naves, was also changed, first in the 17th century by Onofrio Longhi and then in 1759 by Nicolà Picconi.
The church is higher than the street level, as a result of the excavations that took place when Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II was constructed. As a result, you have to climb some steps in order to reach the portico in front of the church.
The balcony above the entrance is decorated with statues of saints and two kneeling angels. The tympanum, with a metal cross, is slightly further to the back in relation to the rest of the facade.
From the sacristy the elegant cloister can be seen, on two rows of arches that are separated by pilasters, and with a fountain in its center.
Works of art
- The vault of the central nave was painted by Anton Raphael Mens and is called “The Glory of Saint Eusebio” (1759). One of the angels, the angels traditionally being male, was a female and just happened to be blessed with the feature of the artist’s beloved.
- The 16th century cloister that can be seen from the sacristy and was designed by Domenico Fontana in 1588. It used to belong the the monastery next door but is now part of a police barracks.
- There is a 16th century wooden choir behind the High Altar, which was carved for the Celestines. The stalls and the lectern of this choir are decorated with carved grotesque figures and it is the only one of its kind in the city.