The Church of San Martino ai Monti is one of the oldest churches in Rome. The most interesting part of this church is the crypt, together with the ruins of the house where 2nd century Christians used to congregate.
San Martino ai Monti Church Rome
Address: Viale Monte Oppio, 28 – Rome (tel. +39 06 4784701 of 06 4873166). Opening hours: 07.30-12.00 and 16.00-19.00. Admission: Free. Metro: Vittorio Emanuele. Bus: 16, 75, 714, 717. (Note that, during the Covid crisis, the Green Pass is mandatory.)
The church is dedicated to Saint Martin of Tours, and every year there is a special celebration in his honor (November 11th).
History and description
The official name of the church is Chiesa dei Santi Silvestro e Martino ai Monti – Titolo Equizio. Tituli churches were churches that did not only celebrate mass, but also educated and aided the poor. Equitius was the name of the person who had donated the area where it is located.
The church of San Martino ai Monti was constructed in the 4th century AD (by Pope Sylvester I), although the site had been used since the 2nd century for Christian prayer meetings.
Over the course of the centuries it was reconstructed and/or restored may times, a.o. in the year 772 and in 845.
The church was built on top of an ancient Roman building that can still be visited from the crypt.
The baroque facade was designed by Pietro da Cortona.
The two medieval towers flanking San Martino ai Monti are called the Torri dei Capocci.
The interior consists of 3 naves that are separated by 24 marble columns with Corinthian capitols.
Highlights and Attractions San Martino ai Monti Church
The frescoes on the right wall portray 17th century Roman landscapes and were painted by Gaspare Dughet.
The frescoes on the left were painted by Filippo Gagliardi and show the interiors of Saint Peter’s Basilica and of Saint John in Lateran. These are important since they show what Saint Peter‘s looked like before Borromini changed its structure.
Below the main altar the relics of the saints Artemius, Paulina and Sisinnius can be seen, which were brought here from the Catacombs of Priscilla.
The ceiling of the central nave was commissioned by cardinal Carlo Borromeo (1560).
It is possible to visit the crypt, and from the crypt the ruins of the house where Equitius allowed religious ceremonies to be held.
The crypt itself contains a 6th century mosaic depicting Pope Sylvester, plus sarcophagi, wall decorations, reliefs and frescoes.