San Vitale, Rome
|Basilica of Sts. Vitalis, Valeris, Gervase and Protase
Basilica di Santi Vitale e Compagni Martiri in Fovea (in Italian)
Basilica Ss. Vitalis, Valeriae, Gervasii et Protasii(in Latin)
Façade of the Basilica of San Vitale
|Ecclesiastical or organizational status||Minor basilica|
|Direction of façade||SE|
|Length||60 metres (200 ft)|
|Width||18 metres (59 ft)|
The Basilica of Sts. Vitalis, Valeris, Gervase and Protase (Italian: Basilica di Santi Vitale e Compagni Martiri in Fovea, Latin: Ss. Vitalis, Valeriae, Gervasii et Protasii) is a titular minor basilica church in Rome. The Roman Catholic church is commonly named Basilica di San Vitale. The Cardinal Priest of the Titulus S. Vitalis is Adam Maida.
The basilica was built in 400 with funds provided by Vestina, a wealthy dowager, and was consecrated by Pope Innocent I in 401/402. The dedication to St. Vitalis and his family (Saint Valeria, his wife, and Sts. Gervasius and Protasius, their sons) is dated to 412. This church is recorded as Titulus Vestinae in the acts of the 499 synod of Pope Symmachus, and three presbyters are listed.
San Vitale was restored several times, the most important being the rebuilding by Pope Sixtus IV before the Jubilee of 1475, and then in 1598, 1938 and 1960. The church is currently located several metres under the level of the street (via Nazionale), that it faces.
The portico is the most ancient part of the church, possibly dating back to the 5th century. It was altered at the end of the 16th century. The inscription on the portico, with the arms of Pope Sixtus IV, dates from this time. Pope Pius IX built the staircase to the 5th century portico in 1859.
The church has a single nave, with walls frescoed with scenes of martyrdom, among which a Martyrdom of St Ignatius of Antioch, in which a ruined Colosseum is depicted.
The apsis, original of the 5th century, is decorated with a fresco by Andrea Commodi, The Ascent to Calvary.
Cardinal Priest of the Basilica di San Vitale
Among the previous titulars, Gennaro Cesio, appointed in 494 by Pope Gelasius I, and St. John Fisher, martyred in 1535 by Henry VIII. The current Cardinal Priest of the Titulus S. Vitalis is Adam Maida.
Free bread was distributed to the poor by the church according to the will of a Roman nobleman, Francesco Silla.
- David Hunt, Chapter VIII of The Cambridge Ancient History, Volume XIII, p.251
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