The Santi XII Apostoli Basilica (“Church of the 12 Holy Apostles”) is the only basilica in Rome that was not built on a previous construction. However, the builders did use material that was probably plundered from the ruins of the Baths of Constantine.
Santi XII Apostoli Basilica Rome information
Address, opening hours and admission
The address of the Church of the Twelve Holy Apostles is Piazza dei Santi Apostoli, 51 – Rome (District: Trevi). Phone: +39 06699571. Public transport: Bus: 40, 60, 64, 70, 117, 170, H, N7, N8, N9, N15, N18. Opening hours: 07.00 till 12.00 and 16.00 till 19.00. Closed: Never (but do not disturb mass: Weekdays 07.30, 08.00, 09.00 and 18.30; Sundays and holidays: 09.00, 10.30, 12.00 and 18.30; Saturdays: 18.30). Admission: Free.
History and description
The Basilica dei Santi XII Apostoli was constructed in the 7th century. Initially the church was dedicated to the apostles Philip and James. Relics of both saints are still preserved inside the church.
In 1348, the basilica was destroyed by an earthquake. One century later, Pope Martin V Colonna ordered the church to be reconstructed. The portico, which partly hides Valadier‘s neoclassical facade, was also built in the 15th century.
In 1702, Pope Clement XI had the building completely renovated. The work was done by a group of architects, including Carlo Fontana and his Francesco, Nicola Michetti and Ludovico Rusconi Sassi.
What to see
The floor plan of the church was based on the one of the Byzantine church of the same name in Istanbul.
The inscription on the top part of the facade claims that Count Giovanni Torlonia was kind enough to finance the 1827 renovation.
People buried in the basilica include the composer Girolamo Frescobaldi and several cardinals. Canova created Pope Clement XIV‘s funerary monument in 1787.
Canova also created the monument for his friend, the engraver Giovanni Volpato. The bas-relief depicts a woman weeping in front of a bust of Volpato.
Baciccio painted the fresco on the vault (“Triumph of the Franciscan Order, 1707).
Sebastiano Ricci painted the vault in the sacristy.
Giovanni Odazzi painted the “Fall of the Rebellious Angels”, above the presbytery.
Mino da Fiesole was responsible for the reliefs on one of the 15th century tombs.
Luigi Capponi created the Tomb of Lorenzo Colonna.
In the 15th century Melozzo da Forli painted the “Ascension” in the apse of the basilica. Unfortunately this work was moved during the 17th century renovations and can now partly be seen in the Vatican Museums and partly in the Quirinal Palace. Michelangelo is said to have taken his inspiration from this work when he painted the Sistine Chapel.