The Santa Maria in Vivario Church is located right in the historic center of Frascati. The church stands next to the Palazzo Vescovile and used to be the city’s cathedral. It is also known as the San Rocco Church.
Santa Maria in Vivario Church Frascati
Address: Via Luigi Cadorna, 6 – 00044 Frascati. Phone: +39 06 9421089. Opening times: From 07:00 till 13:00 and from 15:00 till 19:00.
History and description
The church was built on the site of a former fishpond belonging to an ancient Roman villa. It was restored in the 13th century, but the facade dates back to the 17th century.
In 1538 the Chiesa di Sancta Mariae in Vivario (the name as it appears on the facade) was named cathedral of Frascati, but in 1598 the San Pietro Apostolo Church took over this task.
The bell tower stands at the back and was built in 1305. It consists of three levels separated by ledges. Each level is punctuated by triforas, decorated with different colored tiles.
The interior has three naves, separated by columns with Ionic capitals from the late Imperial period. Each nave ends in an apse.
The central apse contains part of a 15th century fresco depicting the “Coronation of Mary.”
The main altar where this painting can be seen was made from a 5th-century sarcophagus, while the pulpit was made from a Roman-era marble column.
The left apse is graced by a copy of the “Holy Family”, painted by Francesco Salviati in 1550.
Near the door to the sacristy is a plaque referring to the miraculous discovery of images of Saints Rocco and Sebastiano, which led to the end of a plague epidemic that had struck Frascati. Part of these paintings can still be seen in the left corner of the nave. This is also when the church was dedicated to San Rocco, while San Sebastiano became the city’s patron saint.
Below the church is a recently restored crypt, which has the square shape of the former fish pond the church was constructed on top of.