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Sant'Agnese fuori le Mura

Sant'Agnese fuori le Mura (100)

The basilica of Sant’Agnese Fuori le Mura, or Saint Agnes outside the Walls, was built over the ruins of an old cemetery and over the crypt where Saint Agnes was buried in 304.

Saint Agnes was only 13 when Emperor Diocletian ordered her to undress in public for having rejected a young man of his Court. The legend tells that Agnes’s hair grew miraculously until covering her nude body. Saint Agnes was quickly venerated by the people, but it was Constantia, Constantine’s daughter, who ordered this impressive basilica to be built.

The most outstanding aspect of the interior of the church, apart from the tombs of Saint Agnes and Saint Emerentiana, is the fantastic mosaic of the apse. In it you will see an image of Saint Agnes dressed as a Byzantine princess and with the sword of her martyrdom at her feet. It is said that Agnes appeared dressed in this violet tunic and held the holy lamb eight days after her death. Since then, every year on the 21st of January the festival of Saint Agnes is held with the Pope blessing two lambs. 

There is also a local legend that says that all the mayors of Rome come secretly to pray in this church the third night after their election, although there is no real evidence to back up this claim. 

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