"The Cantharus of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere" Top 5 Page for this destination Trastevere Tip by von.otter
Trastevere, Rome: 61 reviews and 111 photos
“It was rumored of him once that he was about to join the Roman Catholic communion, and certainly the Roman ritual had always a great attraction for him.”
— from “The Picture of Dorian Gray” 1890 by Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)
A GREAT ATTRACTION During the early Middle Ages it was common for major churches to have a source of water, often a fountain standing in a garden or a courtyard. Here the faithful could refresh themselves and carry out ritual ablutions before entering the church. The water of the fountain came out of a cantharus, originally a cup with spiral handles; the whole fountain came to be referred to by this name. These abandoned marble cantharus were taken from the ruins of baths or villas.
One of the few existing cantharus (see photos #2 & #3) stands in the courtyard of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere. Hundreds of years later, water still flows into a low square basin from an ancient marble cantharus. The effect is quite peaceful.
Santa Cecilia in Trastevere is a ninth century church that was almost entirely rebuilt in 1725. The bell tower dates to the 12th century (see photo #5). The gorgeous Gothic baldachino stands before the ninth century mosaics. A wedding was in progress when we visited (see photo #4).
Beneath the high altar rests the recumbent 1600 marble sculpture of Santa Cecilia above by Stefano Maderno. The bare throat shows the vain attempts of the executioner to sever her head. The work shows position of the body of Our Saint as it was discovered in 1599. The body was found uncorrupted.
Address: Piazza Santa Cecilia, 2
Directions: Main church and excavations: daily 9:30am to 12:30pm and 4 to 6:30pm
Cavallini frescoes: Mon-Sat 10:15am to 12:15pm, Sunday 11:15am to 12:15pm
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