Although one would never suspect it approaching this basilica, which sits along the side of a busy city street, this location has a strong claim to being the site of the oldest purpose-built church in Rome. It is connected with the name of Chrysogonus, a fourth century military officer martyred under Diocletian in 304 in northern Italy, near the city of Aquileia. His cult soon became popular in Rome, with his name being included in the Roman Canon. Soon after these persecutions ended, a large hall was constructed on this site, to which an apse was later added. Many archeologists see this as a building intended from the start for Christian worship, apparently built even before the Edict of Milan.
|Looking down into the foundations of the original church|
|Symbol of the Trinitarians inside the Baldacchino|
Above the baroque ciborium in the sanctuary is a stucco relief depriving the trial and martyrdom of St. Chrysogonus. Lower is a late 13th century mosaic of the enthroned Madonna and Child between St. Chrysogonus and St. James the Greaser relics of both os whom are beneath the high altar, visible through a grate.
Entering the sacristy we were able to go down to the excavations of the earlier church (mentioned above). Normally it is difficult to get down there - but they opened it up for us this morning. Incredible to see the ancient foundations of this Church!