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Santa Cecilia in Trastevere

Santa Cecilia in Trastevere (81)

You will be startled by the sudden peace experienced on entering the church of Santa Cecilia, in total contrast to the noisy district of Trastevere in which it is located. 

Saint Cecilia, considered the patron saint of music, was martyred here in 230 AD. It is said that, after trying to scald her in boiling water, the Roman soldiers finally decided on cutting her throat. The remains of her house are also directly beneath this church. 

For a long time, nobody knew the whereabouts of the saint’s body, until it was discovered in the catacombs of Saint Callistus.

Pope Paschal I built the first basilica here and moved the remains of Saint Cecilia to the place.

What will most attract your attention inside the church is the mosaic in the apse and the baldachin of the altar. The mosaic dates from the 9th century, while the baldachin by Arnolfo di Cambio is from the 13th century. Beneath this masterpiece by Di Cambio is the statue of the saint, sculpted by Maderno. The artist was allowed to look at the body of Saint Cecilia when it was exhumed in 1599. They say that her remains were miraculously well-preserved. 

Something else you really should not miss is the adjacent convent. Bear in mind that the nuns only open up to the public on Tuesday and Thursday, but it is worth it if you want to appreciate the magnificent fresco by Cavallini called The Final Judgement. It is an image of Christ surrounded by apostles, saints and angels. The latter stand out for the beauty of the pastel shades of their multicoloured wings. 

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