Station Church, 2021: XXXIII

— Feria II infra Dominicam Passionis — Statio ad S. Chyrsogonum —


San Crisogono is a church in Rome (rione Trastevere) dedicated to the martyr Saint Chrysogonus. It was one of the tituli, the first parish churches of Rome, and was probably built in the 4th century under Pope Sylvester I (314–335), rebuilt in the 12th century by John of Crema, and again by Giovanni Battista Soria, funded by Scipione Borghese, in the early 17th century.

The area beneath the sacristy was investigated in 1907. They found remains of the first church (see below). After they had made this discovery, the area was excavated and studied.

The church is served by Trinitarians. Among the previous Cardinal Priests was Vincenzo Gioacchino Raffaele Luigi Pecci (1853–1878), elected Pope Leo XIII.

Remains from the first church, possibly from the reign of Constantine I, and earlier Roman houses can be seen in the lower parts, reached by a staircase in the sacristy. One finds the apse of the old church and the remains of the martyr’s shrine in middle of the apse wall. The church had an uncommon form; rather than the normal basilical plan with a central nave and two aisles on the sides, it had a single nave.

On either side of the apse are rooms known as pastophoria, service rooms of a type uncommon in the West but normal in Eastern churches. The one on the right-hand side is thought to have been used as a diaconium, with functions resembling those of the sacristy in later churches. The other would then probably have been a protesis, where holy relics were kept.

A number of basins were found here during the excavations, including one cut into the south wall. As the plan is so atypical of early Roman churches, some believe that the structure originally had a different function, and the presence of the basins could mean that it was a fullonica, a laundry and dye-house, as this area was a commercial district at the time. Others think that the basin in the south wall was made for baptism by immersion.

The paintings are from the 8th to the 11th century, and include Pope Sylvester Capturing the Dragon, St Pantaleon Healing the Blind Man, St Benedict Healing the Leper and The Rescue of St Placid.

Several sarcophagi have been preserved here, some beautifully decorated.

Further below the first church are remains of late Republican houses.

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