Monday, November 23, 2015

Visiting the Basilica of San Clemente on this his feast day.


On this feast of Saint Clement, a first century pope and martyr, known to have been martyred by being tied to an anchor and thrown in the sea, I decided to visit his famous shrine church in Rome, famously known for its three layers: a Roman mithraeum, an early Church and a Medieval one. The latter is still used to this day. The present basilica was erected between the early 11th and 12th centuries, it is beautifully laid in the Roman Medieval tradition with a schola cantorum, ancient columns (spolia), cosmati floors and later additions, but perhaps its most interesting decoration is the beautiful apse, decorated with an intricate pattern of mosaics, representing the triumph of the Cross. The ciborium, decorated with anchors, is centred on the altar, that according to an early Christian tradition, sits on the tomb of the saints making this church not only a shrine, but a titulus, a holy place where Christians of ages past wanted to be buried by, as they believe the martyrs made it even holier. Saint Clement, one of the first bishops of Rome was a great witness and bearer of the Gospel, and while he died a horrible death, his name is bound to be associated with the glory of this magnificent building.


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