Santa Francesca Romana

(Click on any photo to see a larger version)

1o864147 1a475896 1g482673 1f953751 1l415278 1b856974
1e416385 1k415279 1d357159 1h197382 1i482178 1m963852
DSC_4147 DSC_4148 2a452367 2b482456

Nave, Ceiling
DSC_4149 DSC_4153 3b354612 DSC_4158 DSC_4185
DSC_4186 DSC_4187 DSC_4261 DSC_4263 DSC_4262
DSC_4271 DSC_4272 DSC_4273 DSC_4274 DSC_4270
3Ca45213 DSC_4154 DSC_4275 DSC_4313

DSC_4150c 4a458912 DSC_4188 DSC_4189 DSC_4190

Sanctuary, Apse
13a56784 13b56324 DSC_4299 DSC_4301a DSC_4300a DSC_4207
DSC_4258 DSC_4260 13c67902 13d79812 DSC_4202 13e67856
13i67543 DSC_4206 13f40978 13g79087 DSC_4259a 13h67132

Left side of Sanctuary
14a58764 14b47653 DSC_4256 DSC_4191 DSC_4192
DSC_4240 DSC_4196 DSC_4197 DSC_4194 DSC_4195

(To see photos of the Sacristy and the Crypt click here)

Right side of Sanctuary
15d54657 DSC_4251 DSC_4252 15b58967 DSC_4246 15a96758

(To see photos of the chapels on the left side click here)
(To see photos of the chapels on the right side click here)

Santa Francesca Romana or Santa Maria Nova is a 10th century titular church and minor basilica, formerly monastic, in the rione Monti (I). The basilica is on the north side of the Via Sacra of the Roman Forum, on top of the ruins of Hadrian's Temple of Venus and Roma and on the summit of a little hill anciently known as the Velian. The dedication is actually to the Blessed Virgin Mary, with a secondary dedication to St Frances of Rome.

For reference, a plan of the church is available here.


The nearby church of Santa Maria Antiqua fell into disrepair and was abandoned in the mid 9th century. In the reign of Pope Gregory V (996-9) the old title of Santa Maria Antiqua was finally transferred to the oratory of Saints Peter and Paul which was henceforth known as Santa Maria Nova. The old oratory was rebuilt as a church between 847 and 996, with its back wall on the line of the stairs of the stylobate of the ruined temple.

Pope Alexander III (1159-1181) ordered a restoration, which involved the provision of the surviving apse mosaic, the building of the fine Romanesque campanile and the rebuilding of the convent. The church was re-consecrated in 1161.

In 1352 Pope Clement VI entrusted the church and attached building to the Benediectine monks of Monte Oliveto. The Olivetans, named after Monte Oliveto near Florence, was a late reform of the Benedictine monastic life, started by St Bernard Tolomei.

St Frances was canonized by Pope Paul V in 1608, and this was a spur to the monks to refit the church. The interior remodelling and the addition of the spectacular wooden ceiling in 1612 was supervised by Carlo Lombardi . The entrance façade to the design of Lombardi was added and completed in 1615. The confessio was built, and the saint's body enshrined in it in 1638. As a result, the church gained its secondary dedication and its usual name. The confessio containing the saint's shrine was re-modelled in 1858, and the church interior was restored in 1953.

Related Links: Roman Churches Wiki
Corvinus blog site

Location: 41° 53' 28"N 12° 29' 20"E

Detailed information and description

If you have any comments, questions, suggestions or corrections, please contact me here
Copyright Skip Conde 2012-2023