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Santa Maria Antiqua in the Roman Forum
Santa Maria Antiqua al Foro Romano (Italian)

Santa Maria Antiqua, in the Forum Romanum

Basic information
Location Italy Rome, Italy
Geographic coordinates 41°53′27.6″N 12°29′8.1″E / 41.891°N 12.485583°E / 41.891; 12.485583Coordinates: 41°53′27.6″N 12°29′8.1″E / 41.891°N 12.485583°E / 41.891; 12.485583
Affiliation Roman Catholic
Year consecrated 5th century
Ecclesiastical status Inactive
Architectural description
Architectural type Church
Architectural style Byzantine architecture
Groundbreaking 5th century
Length 30 metres (98 ft)
Width 20 metres (66 ft)

The Ancient church of St Mary (Italian: Santa Maria Antiqua al Foro Romano) is a Roman Catholic Marian church in Rome, built in the 5th century in the Forum Romanum, and for long time the monumental access to the Palatine imperial palaces.

This church is the oldest Christian monument in the Roman Forum and includes the earliest Roman depiction of Santa Maria Regina depicting the Virgin Mary as a Queen in the 6th century.[1][2][3]



Pope John VII used this church in the early 8th century as see of the bishop of Rome. It is possible that the Titulus Cyriaci, recorded in the acts of the 499 synod, is to be identified with this church.

Ground map of the Church of Santa Maria Antiqua and connected archeological structure. Legend:(1) Central Nave, (2) Presbytery, (3) Apse, (4) Chapel of Theodotus, (5) Chapel of Medical Saints, (6) Ramp to the Palatine Hill, (7) Temple of Augustus, (8) Oratory of the XL Martyrs, (9) Atrium.

The church was partially destroyed in 847, when an earthquake caused parts of the imperial palaces to collapse and cover the church. For this reason, a new church called Santa Maria Nova (New St. Mary, now Santa Francesca Romana) was erected nearby by Pope Leo IV, on a portion of the ruined temple of Temple of Venus and Roma, where once stood a chapel commemorating the fall of Simon Magus[4].Santa Maria Antiqua suffered further damages during the Norman Sack of Rome (1084).

The church of Santa Maria Liberator was built in 1617 on its ruins, but then demolished in 1900 to bring the remains of the old church to light[5].

Santa Maria Liberatrice al Palatino by Giuseppe Vasi(18 century)

Byzantine frescoes

The inside of the church is decorated with ancient frescoes in Byzantine style, dating back to Pope Martin I (649-655), Pope John VII (705-707), and Pope Zachary (741-752).


  1. ^ Erik Thunø, 2003 Image and relic: mediating the sacred in early medieval Rome ISBN 8882652173 page 34
  2. ^ Bissera V. Pentcheva, 2006 Icons and power: the Mother of God in Byzantium ISBN 0271025514 page 21
  3. ^ Anne J. Duggan, 2008 Queens and queenship in medieval Europe ISBN 0851158811 page 175
  4. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Benigni, U. (1913). "Rome". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved 2009-06-14.  
  5. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Horace, K. (1913). "Pope John VII". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved 2009-06-14.  

See also


Further reading

External links



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