"St. Nicholas in Prison : Ancient Supports" Top 5 Page for this destination Chiesa San Nicola in Carcere Tip by von.otter
Chiesa San Nicola in Carcere, Rome: 4 reviews and 16 photos
Rome, Rome, thou art no more
As thou hast been!
On thy seven hills of yore
Thou sat’st a queen.
— Mrs. Felicia D. Hemans (1793-1835) from “Roman Girl’s Song”
A visit to San Nicola in Carcere (St. Nicholas in Prison) could result in a fascinating tour, as it did for us. This church, along the River Tiber, is just up the street from Santa Maria in Cosmedin and what was once the Foro Borium, the ancient cattle market.
Soon after we entered we were treated to a serendipitous tour of the church’s fascinating ancient foundations. Our guide, a young Italian man, who spoke English quite well, led us down under the main altar to the basement and down further to the old stone supports.
We learned that remains from three Republican-era temples form the foundations of the church. The temples of Juno Sospita, goddess of marriage and childbirth; Janus, the god of beginnings and endings, of doors and gates; and Spes, the goddess of hope, once stood on this spot. Spes was called the last goddess (Spes, ultima dea), meaning that hope is the last resource available to man. The columns on the church’s exterior (see accompanying photos) were also part of these temples.
The facade and the ceiling, with the coat-of-arms of Pope Pius IX, (see accompanying photos) date from the 1599-rebuilding program. At the same time, a fortified tower that had long been abandoned was not altered but adapted as a bell tower.
The Greek community that once lived in the area made the church’s dedication to St. Nicholas. And because a jail once stood where the church is, the word jail is included in the name.
Address: 46 Via del Teatro di Marcello / Via del Foro Olito
Phone: +39 347 381 1874
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