Unique Roman Churches

The earliest direct references to Christians in Rome from biblical and non-biblical sources come from authors writing only a few decades after the death of Jesus. The first churches of Rome were constructed during the reign of Constantine (reign 306-337), but before that gatherings were held in private homes. By the 4th century pagan temples were being closed and demolished, and so in Rome we find some of the oldest churches in the world – embedded into temples, built over ancient houses, army barracks, hippodromes, baths, streets and cemeteries. These will be the focus of this course.


  • Face-to-Face


  • Claridge, A., 2010, Rome (Oxford Archaeological Guide), Oxford
  • Della Portella, Ivana, and Smith, Mark, 2000, Subterranean Rome: Catacombs, Baths, Temples, Streets, London
  • den Arend, P., 2015, Churches in Rome: A complete guide to the most important churches in Rome, London
  • Hansen, Maria Farbricus, 2015, The Spoila Churches of Rome: Recycling Antiquity in the Middle Ages, Aarhus
  • Lampe, P., 2003, From Paul to Valentius: Christians at Rome in the first two centuries, Minneapolis
  • Tylenda, J.N., 2011, The Pilgrim’s Guide to Rome’s Principal Churches: Illustrated Guided Tours of fifty-one of the most important churches in Rome, London
  • Webb, M., 2001, The Churches and Catacombs of Early Christian Rome: A Comprehensive Guide, Sussex
  • New Revised Standard Version (NRV) of The Bible – a good, plain English translation used by most universities.


  • A brief history of early Christianity in Rome and its relationship to Judaism and other foreign cults – especially in the area of Trastevere
  • Attitudes towards the Christian community and the accusations of martyrdom and persecution.
  • An exploration of the earliest churches in Rome beginning with the four Papal Basilicas and then looking at those churches which have been confirmed by archaeology to have been built on or near ancient foundations – many of which are the oldest “titular” churches of the city.
  • Churches studied in this course will include Santissimo Salvatore e Santi Giovanni Battista ed Evangelista in Laterano (including the Lateran Baptistry), Basilica Papale di San Pietro in Vaticano, San Paolo fuori le Mura, Santa Maria Maggiore, Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, Santa Maria in Trastevere, San Crisogono in Trastevere, Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, Basilica di Santa Prassede all’Esquillino, Basilica di Santa Pudenziana, Chiesa di Santa Costanza, Basilica di Sant’Agnese fuori la Mura, San Bartolomeo all’Isola, Santa Maria on Cosmedin, San Nicola in Carcere, Santa Sabinia, San Saba, Santa Maria in Ara Coeli al Campidoglio, San Lorenzo fuori le Mura, Santa Maria Antiqua al Foro Romano, Basilica Santi Quattro Coronati, Santo Stefano della Rotunda, San Clemente in Laterano, Santa Prisca – and more!
  • The course will look at the various artistic styles in these churches, notable artworks and archaeological features and excavations.


By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Be given a solid artistic and archaeological guide to the oldest churches in Rome and the history of the transition from paganism to Christianity which will, along with detailed course notes, greatly enhance their visit to that city.
  2. Appreciate many beautiful works of art in each of these churches and in particular the layering of history within each one and the study of Early Christian symbolism.
  3. Have a greater understanding of the formation of the city of Rome.
  4. Insight into many of the city’s most famous churches and revelations from many which are comparatively obscure.
$158 Limited / $142

<p>The earliest direct references to Christians in Rome from biblical and non-biblical sources come from authors writing only a few decades after the death of Jesus. The first churches of Rome were

28 Feb

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