|Basilica of Saint Sabina at the Aventine
Basilica di Santa Sabina all'Aventino (Italian)
Basilica Sanctae Sabinae (Latin)
|Ecclesiastical or organizational status||Minor basilica|
|Website||General Curia of the Order of the Preachers|
|Direction of façade||SW|
|Length||60 metres (200 ft)|
|Width||30 metres (98 ft)|
|Width (nave)||17 metres (56 ft)|
The Basilica of Saint Sabina on the Aventine Hill in Rome, Italy (Latin: Basilica Sanctae Sabinae, Italian: Basilica di Santa Sabina all'Aventino) is a titular minor basilica and mother church of the Roman Catholic Order of Preachers, better known as the Dominicans. Santa Sabina is perched high above the Tiber river to the North and the Circus Maximus to the East. It is a short distance to the headquarters of the Knights of Malta.
Santa Sabina is the oldest extant Roman basilica in the eternal city that preserves its original colonnaded rectangular plan and architectural style. Its decorations have been restored to their original restrained design. Together with the light pouring in from the windows, this makes the Santa Sabina an airy and roomy place. Other basilicas, such as Santa Maria Maggiore, are often heavily and gaudily decorated. Because of its simplicity, the Santa Sabina represents the crossover from a roofed Roman forum to the churches of Christendom. Its Cardinal Priest is Jozef Tomko. It is the stational church for Ash Wednesday.
The Church of Santa Sabina was built by Peter of Illyria, a Dalmatian priest, between 422 and 432 near a temple of Juno on the Aventine Hill in Rome. The church was built on the site of the 4th century house of the Sabina a Roman matron originally from Avezzano in the Abruzzo region of Italy. Sabina was beheaded under the Emperor Vespasian, or perhaps Hadrian, because she had been converted to Christianity by her servant Seraphia, who was stoned to death. She was later declared a Christian Saint.
The wooden door of the basilica is generally agreed to be the original door from 430-32, although it was apparently not constructed for this doorway. Eighteen of its wooden panels survive — all but one depicting scenes from the Bible. Most famous among these is one of the earliest certain depictions of Christ's crucifixion, although other panels have also been the subjects of extensive analysis because of their importance for the study of Christian iconography.
The campanile (bell tower) dates from the 10th century.
The original 5th-century apse mosaic was replaced in 1559 by a very similar fresco by Taddeo Zuccari. The composition probably remained unchanged: Christ is flanked by a good thief and a bad thief, seated on a hill while lambs drink from a stream at its base. The iconography of the mosaic was very similar to another 5th-century mosaic, destroyed in the 17th century, in Sant'Andrea in Catabarbara. An interesting feature of the interior is a framed hole in the floor, exposing a Roman era temple column that pre-dates Santa Sabina. This appears to be the remnant of the Temple of Juno erected on the hilltop site during Roman times, which was likely razed to allow construction of Santa Sabina. The tall, spacious nave has 24 columns of Proconnesian marble with perfectly matched Corinthian columns and bases, which were reused from the Temple of Juno.
The interior cells of the Dominican convent are little changed since the earliest days of the Order of Preachers. The cell of St. Dominic is still identified, though it has since been enlarged and converted to a chapel. Also, the original dining room still remains, in which St. Thomas Aquinas would dine when he lived to Rome.
Convent and Studium of the Dominican Order 
Pope Honorius III approved in 1216 the Order of Preachers, now commonly known as the Dominicans, which was "the first order instituted by the Church with an academic mission,". Honorius III invited Saint Dominic, the founder of the Order of Preachers, to take up residence at the church of Santa Sabina in 1220. The official foundation of the Dominican convent at Santa Sabina with its studium conventuale, the first Dominican studium in Rome, occurred with the legal transfer of property from Honorius III to the Order of Preachers on June 5, 1222 though the brethren had taken up residence there already in 1220.
Some scholars have written that Honorius III was a member of the Savelli family and that the church and associated buildings formed part of the holdings of the Savelli, thereby explaining why Honorius III donated Santa Sabina to the Dominicans. In fact, Honorius III was not a Savelli. These scholars may have confused later Pope Honorius IV, who was a Savelli, and Honorius III. In any case, the church was given over to the Dominicans and it has since then served as their headquarters in Rome.
In 1265 in accordance with the injunction of the Chapter of the Roman province of the Order of Preachers at Anagni, Thomas Aquinas was assigned as regent master at the studium conventuale at Santa Sabina: “Fr. Thome de Aquino iniungimus in remissionem peccatorum quod teneat studium Rome, et volumus quod fratribus qui stant secum ad studendum provideatur in necessariis vestimentis a conventibus de quorum predicatione traxerunt originem. Si autem illi studentes inventi fuerint negligentes in studio, damus potestatem fr. Thome quod ad conventus suos possit eos remittere”. At this time the existing studium conventuale at Santa Sabina was transformed into the Order's first studium provinciale, an intermediate school between the studium conventuale and the studium generale. "Prior to this time the Roman Province had offered no specialized education of any sort, no arts, no philosophy; only simple convent schools, with their basic courses in theology for resident friars, were functioning in Tuscany and the meridionale during the first several decades of the order's life. But the new studium at Santa Sabina was to be a school for the province," a studium provinciale. Tolomeo da Lucca, an associate and early biographer of Aquinas, tells us that at the Santa Sabina studium Aquinas taught the full range of philosophical subjects, both moral and natural.
With the departure of Aquinas for Paris in 1268 and the passage of time the pedagogical activities of the studium provinciale at Santa Sabina were divided between two campuses. A new convent of the Order at the Church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva had a modest beginning in 1255 as a community for women converts, but grew rapidly in size and importance after being given to the Dominicans in 1275. In 1288 the theology component of the provincial curriculum was relocated from the Santa Sabina studium provinciale to the studium conventuale at Santa Maria sopra Minerva which was redesignated as a studium particularis theologiae. Thus, the studium at Santa Sabina was the forerunner of the studium generale at Santa Maria sopra Minerva. The latter would be transformed in the 16th century into the College of Saint Thomas (Latin: Collegium Divi Thomæ), and then in the 20th century into the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum sited at the convent of Saints Dominic and Sixtus.
Following the curriculum of studies laid out in the capitular acts of 1291 the Santa Sabina studium was redesignated as one of three studia nove logice intended to offer courses of advanced logic covering the logica nova, the Aristotelian texts recovered in the West only in the second half of the 12th century, the Topics, Sophistical Refutations, and the First and Second Analytics of Aristotle. This was an advance over the logica antiqua, which treated the Isagoge of Porphyry, Divisions and Topics of Boethius, the Categories and On Interpretation of Aristotle, and the Summule logicales of Peter of Spain. Milone da Velletri was lector at the Santa Sabina studium in 1293 In 1310 the Florentine Giovanni dei Tornaquinci was lector at Santa Sabina. In 1331 at the Santa Sabina studium Nerius de Tertia was lector, and Giovanni Zocco da Spoleto was a student of logic.
- Roth, Leland M. (1993). Understanding Architecture: Its Elements, History and Meaning (First ed.). Boulder, CO: Westview Press. p. 245. ISBN 0-06-430158-3.
- Pirerre Mandonnet, "Order of Preachers" Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913; http://www.domcentral.org/trad/ce.htm
- The Order of the Preachers. "General Curia". Retrieved 2009-01-29.
- Pierre Mandonnet, O.P., St. Dominic and His Work, Translated by Sister Mary Benedicta Larkin, O.P., B. Herder Book Co., St. Louis/London, 1948, Chapt. III, note 50: "If the installation at Santa Sabina does not date from 1220, at least it is from 1221. The official grant was made only in June, 1222 (Bullarium O.P., I, 15). But the terms of the bull show that there had been a concession earlier. Before that concession the Pope said that the friars had no hospitium in Rome. At that time St. Sixtus was no longer theirs; Conrad of Metz could not have alluded to St. Sixtus, therefore, when he said in 1221: "the Pope has conferred on them a house in Rome" (Laurent no. 136). It is possible that the Pope was waiting for the completion of the building that he was having done at Santa Sabina, before giving the title to the property, on June 5, 1222, to the new Master of the Order, elected not many days before." http://www.domcentral.org/trad/domwork/domwork03.htm Accessed 2012-5-20.
- J. J. Berthier, L'Eglise de Sainte-Sabine a Rome (Rome: M. Bretschneider, 1910).
- Joan Barclay Lloyd, "Medieval Dominican Architecture at Santa Sabina in Rome, c. 1219-c. 1320." Papers of the British School at Rome. 2004. v 72, p 231-292, 379.
- Acta Capitulorum Provincialium, Provinciae Romanae Ordinis Praedicatorum, 1265, n. 12, in Corpus Thomisticum, http://www.corpusthomisticum.org/a65.html Accessed 4-8-2011
- Marian Michèle Mulchahey, "First the bow is bent in study": Dominican education before 1350, 1998, p. 278-279. http://books.google.com/books?id=bK9axCYcbFIC&pg=PA279#v=onepage&q&f=false Accessed 6-30-2011
- "Tenuit studium Rome, quasi totam Philosophiam, sive Moralem, sive Naturalem exposuit." Ptolomaei Lucensis historia ecclesiastica nova, xxii, c. 24, in In Gregorovius' History of the City of Rome In the Middle Ages, Vol V, part II, 617, note 2. http://www.third-millennium-library.com/PDF/Authors/Gregorovius/history-of-rome-city_5_2.pdf Accessed 6-5-2011.
- Compendium Historiae Ordinis Praedicatorum, A.M. Walz, Herder 1930, 214: Romanus conventus S. Mariae supra Minervam anno 1255 ex conditionibus parvis crevit. Tunc enim paenitentibus feminis in communi regulariter ibi 1252/53 viventibus ad S. Pancratium migratis fratres Praedicatores domum illam relictam a Summo Pontifice habendam petierunt et impetranint. Qua demum feliciter obtenda capellam hospitio circa annum 1255 adiecerunt. Huc evangelizandi causa fratres e conventu S. Sabinae descendebant. http://www.archive.org/stream/MN5081ucmf_3/MN5081ucmf_3_djvu.txt Accessed 5-17-2011
- Marian Michèle Mulchahey, "First the bow is bent in study": Dominican education before 1350, 1998, p. 323. http://books.google.com/books?id=bK9axCYcbFIC&pg=PA323 Accessed 5-26-2011
- Marian Michèle Mulchahey, "First the bow is bent in study": Dominican education before 1350, 1998, pp. 236-237. http://books.google.com/books?id=bK9axCYcbFIC&pg=PA236 Accessed 6-30-2011
- http://www.e-theca.net/emiliopanella/remigio2/re1302.htm Accessed 4-6-2012
- http://www.e-theca.net/emiliopanella/remigio2/re1311.htm Accessed 4-5-2012
- http://www.e-theca.net/emiliopanella/cronica2/orvie50.htm Accessed 4-5-2012
- http://www.e-theca.net/emiliopanella/convento/arezzo18.htm#_ftnref88 Accessed 7-5-2011
- Krautheimer, Richard (1984). Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture. New Haven: Yale University Press. pp. 171–174. ISBN 0-300-05294-4.
- Richard Delbrueck. "Notes on the Wooden Doors of Santa Sabina", The Art Bulletin, Vol. 34, No. 2. (Jun., 1952), pp. 139–145.
- Ernst H. Kantorowicz, "The 'King's Advent': And The Enigmatic Panels in the Doors of Santa Sabina", The Art Bulletin, Vol. 26, No. 4. (Dec., 1944), pp. 207–231.
- Alexander Coburn Soper. "The Italo-Gallic School of Early Christian Art", The Art Bulletin, Vol. 20, No. 2 (Jun., 1938), pp. 145–192.
- Richard Delbrueck. "The Acclamation Scene on the Doors of Santa Sabina" (in Notes), The Art Bulletin, Vol. 31, No. 3 (Sep., 1949), pp. 215–217.
Further reading 
- Weitzmann, Kurt, ed., Age of spirituality: late antique and early Christian art, third to seventh century, nos. 247, 438 & 586, 1979, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, ISBN 9780870991790; full text available online from The Metropolitan Museum of Art Libraries
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