The Santi Nereo e Achilleo Church in Rome is a 4th century church near the Baths of Caracalla. It is dedicated to two martyrs who lived in the 2nd century. The main attraction is a fresco cycle by Pomarancio.
Santi Nereo e Achilleo Basilica Rome
Address: Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 28 – Rome. Phone: (+39) 06 6875289. Opening hours: The basilica is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 AM till noon and on Saturdays from 10 AM until noon. Public transport: Bus 628, 760; metro: Caracalla (line B). (Note that, especially during the Covid-crisis, opening times may vary. Check before you go!)
History and description
The Chiesa dei Santi Nereo e Achilleo is one of Rome’s oldest churches. It is built on the spot where, according to legend, St. Peter’s bandages fell off his foot after his escape from the Mamertine Prison.
Pope Leo III had the church renovated around the year 800.
A complete restoration, ordered by Cardinal Baronio, took place in 1597. Several frescoes dating back to this period are still visible in the church.
The facade has an aedicula-shaped protiro. It is preceded by a granite Roman column, the capital of which is decorated with lion heads and crowned by a cross.
The basilica consists of three naves. The arches separating the naves rest on 4th century pillars.
Inside the church are a number of interesting frescoes by Pomarancio, depicting the various methods of torture the two saints were forced to undergo. Interestingly, Pomarancio also painted almost the entire interior of the Santo Stefano Rotondo Church with similarly themed frescoes.
The episcopal chair in the presbytery is attributed to Vassalletto’s work shop. It is decorated with two lions. The back is formed by a marble alcove with an incision of the 28th Homiliae of saint Gregory the Great.
The relics of the saints Nereo, Achilleio and Domitilla are kept in an urn underneath the main altar.
The marble foundation the rostrum rests on was taken from the Baths of Caracalla.