Monday, 16 March 2015

Lenten Station At The Basilica Of The Four Holy Crowned Martyrs (Santi Quattro Coronati). Monday, The Fourth Week In Lent.


Roman Text is taken from The Saint Andrew Daily Missal.

Italic Text, Illustrations and Captions, are taken from Wikipedia - the free encyclopaedia,
unless otherwise stated.


Monday of The Fourth Week in Lent.
Station at The Four Holy Crowned Martyrs.

Indulgence of 10 years and 10 Quarantines.

Violet Vestments.



The First Courtyard, with The Guard Tower, 
of The Basilica of Santi Quattro Coronati 
(The Four Holy Crowned Martyrs),
Rome, Italy.
Photo: November 2005.
Source: Own work.
Author: Lalupa.
(Wikimedia Commons)


The Station is on Mount Caelius, in a Church erected in the 7th-Century in honour of Four Officers of The Roman Army, who, having refused to adore a statue of Aesculapius, received The Crown of Martyrdom. These were "The Four Crowned Ones", whose Relics are Venerated in this Sanctuary, together with the head of the Martyr, Saint Sebastian, an Officer of The Army of Diocletian. This Church was one of the twenty-five Parish Churches of Rome in the 5th-Century A.D.

The Epistle relates to us the famous Judgement of Solomon. One of the two women who appealed to his justice, having suffocated her child, whilst asleep, was jealous of her rival, whose son was living. She represents the Synagogue, whose rulers, by their indifference, had stifled Religious Life in Israel and who were jealous of the Gentiles, to whom the Church had given life through Baptism and Penance. Penitents and Catechumens prepared themselves for Baptism and Penance during Lent. Let us also prepare ourselves for our Easter Confession.

The Wisdom of Solomon, admired by the whole world, is a figure of the wisdom of the true Solomon, whose doctrine comes to regenerate the world. The Gospel of today establishes another superiority of Jesus over His Royal Ancestor: Solomon had built a Temple, rich beyond compare. Jesus, speaking of His Own Body, throws this challenge to His enemies: "Destroy this Temple, and in Three Days I will raise It up." He Rises, indeed, The Third Day after His Death. From The Church, His Mystical Body, He drives out the unworthy, as He had driven out The Sellers from the Temple, and receives into it all those who believe in Him.

Let us make ourselves pleasing to God, in body and in Soul, by the Religious Observance of The Holy Practices of Lent.



The Internal Courtyard
of The Basilica of Santi Quattro Coronati
(The Four Holy Crowned Martyrs),
Rome, Italy.
Photo: September 2006.
Source: Own work.
Author: Lalupa
(Wikimedia Commons)


Santi Quattro Coronati is an ancient Basilica in Rome. The original Church dates back to the 4th- or 5th-Century A.D., and is devoted to four anonymous Saints and Martyrs. The complex of the Basilica, with its two Courtyards, the fortified Cardinal Palace with the Saint Sylvester Chapel, and the Monastery, with its cosmatesque Cloister, is built in a silent and green part of Rome, between the Colosseum and San Giovanni in Laterano.

"Santi Quattro Coronati" means "The Four Holy Crowned Ones" [i.e. Martyrs], and refers to the fact that the Saints' names are not known, and therefore referred to with their number, and that they were Martyrs, since the Crown, together with the Branches of Palm, is an ancient symbol of Martyrdom.

According to The Passion of Saint Sebastian, The Four Saints were Soldiers, who refused to sacrifice to Aesculapius, and therefore were killed by order of Emperor Diocletian (284 A.D. - 305 A.D.). The bodies of the Martyrs were buried in the Cemetery of Santi Marcellino e Pietro, on the fourth mile of via Labicana, by Pope Miltiades and Saint Sebastian (whose Skull is preserved in the Church). Pope Miltiades decided that the Martyrs should be Venerated with the names of Claudius, Nicostratus, Simpronianus and Castorius. The bodies of the Martyrs are kept in four ancient Sarcophagi in the Crypt. According to a lapid, dated 1123, the Head of one of The Four Martyrs is buried in Santa Maria-in-Cosmedin.

Tradition holds the first Church was begun by Pope Miltiades in the 4th-Century A.D., on the North Side of The Caelian Hill. One of the first Churches of Rome, it bore the Titulus "Aemilianae", from the name of the Foundress, who probably owned the elaborate Roman villa, whose structure is evident under the Church. The Church was completed at the end of the 6th-Century A.D., and, because of its proximity to the Mediaeval Papal residence of The Lateran Palace, it became prominent in its day.

The first renovations occurred under Pope Leo IV (847 A.D. - 855 A.D.), who built the Crypt under the Nave, added Side Aisles, enclosed the Courtyard before the facade, and built the Bell-Tower and the Chapels of Saint Barbara and Saint Nicholas. The Basilica, Carolingian in Style, was 95 metres long and 50 metres wide.



Interior of The Basilica of 
The Four Holy Crowned Martyrs, 
Rome, Italy.
Photo: May 2008.
Source: Own work.
Author: Lalupa
(Wikimedia Commons)


This Church, however, was burned to the ground by Robert Guiscard's Troops during the Norman Sack of Rome (1084). Instead of re-building the original Basilica to scale, Pope Paschal II built a smaller Basilica with two Courtyards, one in front of the other; the first corresponding to the original 9th-Century Courtyard, while the second was sited over the initial part of the Nave. The two Aisles were included in The Cardinal Palace and in The Benedictine Monastery, Founded by Pope Paschal II. The original Apse of The Basilica, however, was preserved, and seems over-sized for the new Church, whose Nave was divided into three parts by means of Columns. The new Church was Consecrated on 20 January 1116. In 1338, it was a possession of Sassovivo Abbey.




Italiano: Abbazia di Sassovivo,
Foligno, Perugia, Umbria, Italy.
English: Sassovivo Abbey, Perugia, Italy.
This Abbey owned The Basilica of
The Four Holy Crowned Martyrs in 1338.
Photo: September 2007.
This File: 29 September 2007.
User: Cantalamessa.
(Wikimedia Commons)


In the 13th-Century, a Cosmatesque Cloister was added. Cosmatesque, or Cosmati, is a style of geometric decorative inlay stonework, typical of Mediaeval Italy, and especially of Rome and its surroundings. It was used most extensively for the decoration of Church floors, but was also used to decorate Church walls, pulpits, and Bishop's Thrones. The name derives from the Cosmati, the leading family workshop of marble craftsmen in Rome, who created such geometrical decorations. The style spread across Europe, where it was used in the most prestigious Churches; The High Altar of Westminster Abbey, for example, is decorated with a Cosmatesque marble floor.

The Cardinal Palace was enlarged by Cardinal Stefano Conti, a nephew of Pope Innocent III. Cardinal Conti also transformed the Palace into a Fortress, to shelter Popes in The Lateran during the Conflict with the Hohenstaufen Emperors. In 1247, the Chapel of Saint Sylvester, on the ground floor of the Fortress, was Consecrated; it contains frescoes depicting stories of Pope Silvester I and Emperor Constantine I. Painted in the backdrop of political struggles between Pope Innocent IV and the freshly-Excommunicated Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II, the frescoes are meant to underscore the desired Sovereignty of The Church (Pope Silvester I) over the Empire (Emperor Constantine).




Cosmatesque screen,
Rome, Italy.
Photo: September 2005.
(Wikimedia Commons)



When the Popes moved to Avignon (14th-Century), the Cardinal Palace fell into ruin. Thus, upon the return of the Popes to Rome, with Pope Martin V, a Restoration was necessary. However, when The Papal Residence moved from The Lateran to The Vatican Palace, this Basilica lost importance. In 1564, Pope Pius IV entrusted The Basilica and the buildings to The Augustinians, who still serve it.

The interest, in the history of this complex, renewed in 1913, thanks to the work of The Fine Arts Superintendent Antonio Muñoz. Once the building became an orphanage, The Augustinian Nuns put a revolving drum by its entrance, which was used as a "Deposit Box" for unwanted babies.

The Apse contains the frescoes (1630) by Giovanni da San Giovanni of The Four Patron Martyr Saints. The Altarpiece on the Left Nave, of San Sebastiano curato da Lucina e Irene, was painted by Giovanni Baglione. The Second Courtyard holds the Entrance to The Oratorio di San Silvestro, with frescoes of Mediaeval origin, as well as others by Raffaellino da Reggio.




Pope Pius IV 
(Pope from 1559-1565) 
entrusted The Basilica to The Augustinians.


Santi Quattro Coronati has belonged to The Titular Churches of Rome from at least the end of the 6th-Century A.D. Among the previous Titulars are: Pope Leo IV (847 A.D.), King Henry of Portugal, who, in 1580, donated the magnificent Wooden Ceiling, and Pope Benedict XV (1914). The full list is known only from The Pontificate of Gregory VII (1073-1085).

In 2002, art historian Andreina Draghi discovered an amazing display of frescoes, dating back to the 13th-Century, while restoring The Gothic Hall of The Monastery. Most of the scenes were well preserved under a thick layer of plaster, and represented The Twelve Months, The Liberal Arts, The Four Seasons and The Zodiac. The image of King Solomon, a pious judge, painted on the Northern Wall, led scholars to argue the room was meant to be a Hall of Justice. Plaster was possibly laid after the 1348 Black Death for hygienic reasons, or, perhaps in the 15th-Century, when the Camaldolese left the Monastery.




St Andrew Daily Missal (Traditional Mass)

Available (in U.K.) from

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