Minor Roman Basilicas: San Crisogono

Continuing on with our considerations of some of the 'must-see' basilicas in Rome -- outside the usual, well known suspects -- we turn today to the minor Roman basilica of San Crisogono.  San Crisogono is named after the martyr St Chrysogonus who was killed during the Diocletian persecutions which took place between the years A.D. 303-311.  It is, in fact, this same "Chrysogonus" who is mentioned in the Roman Canon. 

The basilica of San Crisogono was one of the original tituli of Rome and is thought to have been originally built in early fourth century by Pope Sylvester I and then later rebuilt in the twelfth century and then once more renovated under the patronage of Cardinal Scipione Borghese during the seventeenth. 

The outside is fairly typically seventeenth century Roman form with the (unusually spired) Romanesque bell-tower dated to the twelfth century renovations. 

The interior presents us with what we've come to expect of beautiful Roman churches. Namely, the elegance of the basilica form with its line of noble columns down the nave, beautiful arches and angles, and cosmatesque floors.

The columns lining the nave are, once again, spolia -- antique columns of the Roman age that have been relocated to this basilica. They prevent a beautiful and subtle array of red (pink) and grey Egyptian granite that is complimented by the warm tones of gold. The main arch itself is supported by a pair of large red porphyry columns, thought to be the largest surviving one's intact in all of Rome. 

The ciborium magnum that sits over the altar was designed by Giovanni Battista Soria and is dated to the first half of the 1600's -- though it should be noted that the four columns of yellow alabaster are ancient.  The altar itself is from the early twelfth century and behind, within the apse, is a thirteenth century depiction of the Madonna and Child with St. Chrysogonus.

A baroque coffered ceiling is also present in the basilica which depicts "The Glory of St. Chrysogonus" 

The stemma of Cardinal Scipione Borghese are also prominently found on the ceiling.

The portion of the ceiling located in the sanctuary shows a depiction of the Christ child asleep on the lap of the Virgin. 

Beneath the present day basilica are a series of excavations which, like at San Clemente, impressively reveal to us the earlier basilica's remnants. In the midst of these are still visible the various frescoes that are dated to the seventh to eleventh centuries. Also still visible in the excavations are the apse and the location of the original shrine to the martyr Crisogono. 

Decorative stone flooring can be found and many beautiful sarcophagi were also discovered during the excavations. 

Amidst all of this are also found the remnants of Roman houses from the Republican era.

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