Minor Roman Basilicas: San Sebastiano fuori le Mura

The basilica of San Sebastiano fuori le Mura is located on the ancient Via Appia on the outskirts of Rome, situated in relation to one of the ancient catacombs, specifically the catacomb of the same name. San Sebastiano is one of the Seven Pilgrim Churches of Rome. Technically speaking, it was replaced by another church in this regard in the year 2000, however, given its long life as one of the traditional pilgrim churches, it firmly retains its popularity and "claim to fame" in this regard amongst pilgrims to the Eternal City. 

San Sebastiano as it stands today, is substantially a modest baroque edifice, but the origins of the basilica are, of course, much older, going back in its foundations to the years 300-350.

The inside of the current basilica is likewise quite modest in nature (by Roman standards at any rate) with the primary artistic attraction being the spectacular ceiling which includes a beautiful image of St. Sebastian himself. 

It is not art and architecture which brings the pilgrim to this basilica however, it is what lay beneath the ground in the form of the catacombs, including the original burial spot of St. Sebastian himself.

According to tradition, the relics of no less than Ss. Peter and Paul were moved here for a time for their protection during one of the imperial periods of Christian persecution, hence why the original basilica which stood on this site was dedicated to the Apostles: the Basilica Apostolorum.  They would be moved back to their original locations by the Emperor Constantine upon the construction of his basilicas dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul respectively. 

For those wondering what the original basilica might have looked like, the following model presents a conjectural view:

One interesting item of paleochristian art that can be found within the current basilica, presently used as a freestanding altar, is this Christian sarcophagus dated to the fifth century. It depicts Christ with Ss. Peter and Paul in the centre, as well as an image of the arrest of St. Peter.

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