The Santi Vito e Modesto Church is located next to the Arch of Gallienus in Rome. Originally, the church was also dedicated to Crescenzio. The most interesting attraction in the church is a stone that was supposed to cure rabid people in the Middle Ages.
Santi Vito e Modesto Church Rome
Address: Via Carlo Alberto, 47 – Rome. Telephone: +39 +39 06 4465836. Opening hours: 7.30-8.30 and 17.00-19.00 (Sundays and holidays: 9.30-13.00. Entrance fee: Free.
History and description
The very first version of the Chiesa dei Santi Vito e Modesto was built in the 4th century. A first restoration took place in the 8th century, under Pope Stephen III. During the following centuries, the church fell into disrepair. In 1477, Sixtus IV had the church completely reconstructed. The adjoining convent, first run by the nuns of San Bernardo, later came into the hands of Cistercian monks. In 1834 the church was restored by Pietro Camporese the Younger and another reconstruction followed towards the end of the same century. In the early 20th century, the façade was moved to the Via Carlo Alberto side. The architect of this reconstruction was Alfredo Ricci. In the 1970s, the facade was moved back to Via San Vito.
The church has a pointed roof. The marble portal and oculus date from the time of Sixtus IV. The rectangular interior consists of three naves.
What to see
The “Madonna and Child” to the left of the altar was painted by Antoniazzo Romano in 1483.
In the right nave, the so-called pietra scellerata is preserved. This “depraved stone” used to be scratched by people bitten by rabid dogs. The reason was that Vito and Modesto were the patron saints of rabid people. In reality, it is an ancient tombstone for one Elio Terzio Causidico.
Saint Modesto was Vito‘s teacher and Saint Crescenzia his nurturer. They converted Vito to Christianity, after which they were forced to flee. They became martyrs in 303, during the reign of Emperor Diocletian.
A little bit further into the Via di San Vito, on the corner with the Via di Sant’Antonio all’Esquilino, you can see a 19th century aedicula with “Sant’Antonio holding the Child”. This is quite unusual, since most of the aediculas on Roman street corners contain statues or paintings of the Madonna, which is why they are called “Madonnelle“.