Like many churches in Verona, the Santi Apostoli Church was built at the exact spot where an early Christian basilica used to stand. What is special about this church is that there is another, separate church in its basement. This church is, in turn, built on top of a Roman tomb.
Santi Apostoli Church Verona
Address, opening hours and admission
Address: Vicolo Dietro Santi Apostoli – 37121 Verona. Phone: +39 0458032873. Opening hours: From 08.00 till 12.00 and from 15.30 till 19.30. Admission: Free. (As the address, “Alley Behind Santi Apostoli” would indicate, the entrance you see from the Corso Cavour is not the main one. You need to walk on the left around the church to come to the main facade.)
The origins of the Santi Apostoli Church are early Christian, but it was completely reconstructed in the 12th century. Other interventions took place in the 14th, 16th and 18th centuries. The last important reconstruction was a result of damage caused during World War II.
Only the outer walls, the apse and the bell tower are left of the Romanesque construction. Its floor plan was that of a Greek cross, with a slightly elevated central part.
In the course of the 14th century the church became the Bevilacqua family chapel. Tombs of several of its members were placed inside. The floor plan was squared and the walls made longer in order to put the tombs in the right spots. Later, the floor, the main altar and the windows were also renovated.
In the 16th century the church was altered again and the three naves were turned into a single one.
What to see
The altar piece “St. Augustine in Meditation” was painted by Alessandro Turchi, aka l’Orbetto.
The ceiling frescoes in the presbytery are the work of Agostino Pegrassi.
Felice Brusasorci painted the “Adoration of the Kings”.
Simone Brentana painted the “Pentocost”, the central painting in the apse.
The frescoes in the sacristy were painted in the 12th and 13th centuries.
The sacristy gives access to an underground church, dedicated to the saints Teuteria and Tosca. The latter was the sister of Saint Proculus and lived a quiet, hermit-like existence. Teuteria was the daughter of the English king, and had escaped an arranged marriage to Oswald. The two women retired in a cave, which was miraculously sealed off by spider webs. Both died in 263. Meanwhile Oswald, thanks to Teutoria‘s prayers had converted to Christianity and even made it to sainthood himself.
The Church of the Saints Tosca and Teuteria was dedicated in 751. It is known there was a building in the spot as early as the 5th century. A second dedication took place in 1160, after the bodies of the two women were found.
The mortal remains of the saint were placed in a red marble sarcophagus near the altar. Although the tom was made in the 12th century, the statues were only added in the 15th century.
Together with the mortal remains of the saints, those of two more people, one male and one female, were found. Fourth century floor mosaics, coins and other human remains would indicate that the original building had been a Roman tomb.
A restoration in 1913 brought parts of the church back to its original state.
Tombs and baptismal font
The tomb to the right of the main altar is that of Francesco Bevilacqua, consigliere of Cangrande II. He was the first on of the Bevilacqua clan to be buried here, in 1368. It is not know who made the tomb.
The white marble tomb in front of it contains three brothers Bevilacqua. It was made in the 16th century. The statues contain three virtues.
The 13th century baptismal font in the corner was made in the 13th century. It was made of a single block of marble. In those days you were completely submerged when you were baptized.