Santi Benedetto e Scholastica
|Dedication||Benedict and Scholastica|
Santi Benedetto e Scolastica is a church in Rome on the Via di Torre Argentina, although its postal address is Vicolo Sinibaldi 1.
This tiny church is one of the smallest in Rome, and is for natives of the city and region of Norcia who are living in Rome. An archconfraternity to care for the welfare of Nursian expatriates was set up in Rome in 1615, and it was bequeathed a property on the VIa di Torre Argentina. The already existing house chapel was converted into a church with a separate entrance in 1625, and given the dedication is because St Benedict started his monastic career at Norcia before moving to Montecassino. St Scholastica was his sister, and by tradition was the first Benedictine nun. In the French occupation of Rome after 1808 the church was looted of its artworks and desecrated, and suffered the same fate under the Roman Republic in 1849. At present it is cherished by its small congregation. Remarkably, given its size, it has been granted the dignity of a Minor Basilica.
The church is part of a larger building, and hence has no separate architectural identity. It is marked by the interesting and unusual dedicatory inscription over the entrance, which is written in concentric circles within a tondo. This tondo is flanked by two diagonal strips of cornice each with a faint S-curve, and which join to it via tiny volutes. The inscription reads "Divis Benedicto et Scholasticae Patronis nursinus ordo et populus", which translates as "To the honoured patrons Benedict and Scholastica, the council and people of Norcia".
The single-roomed interior was entirely restored in the 19th century, and could be described as garish in places. The walls are painted to imitate green hanging curtains, with trompe-l'oeil pilasters supporting an entablature with an inscription "Felix Nursiae tellus quae talem genuit alumnum" or "Happy land of Norcia, which gave birth to such a pupil". There is a painting of the patrons over the altar, and over that a lunette containing stained glass showing the Madonna and Child being venerated by saints. The Baroque altar has polychrome marble inlay.
The church should be open for Mass at 18:30, except Sunday which is 11:00.
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