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Church and Miterreum of Santa Prisca

Church and Miterreum of Santa Prisca

Via di S. Prisca - 00153 Rome RM - Italy

RELIGIONS Catholic, Paganism


The church of Santa Prisca is a place of Catholic worship in Rome, located on the Aventine, in the Ripa district. On the church, which stands on a second-century domus and is dedicated to St. Prisca, martyr of the first century, the homonymous parish belonging to the diocese of Rome and the title cardinal of Santa Prisca, instituted by Pope Evaristo in 112, is located. Below the Church, in the north, there is a mithraeum with a quadripartite that towards 110 d.C. was transformed into a dwelling. The domus, datable to the end of the first century, has been attributed to Lucius Licinius Sura, identified by others with the private Traiani, that is the residence of Trajan before becoming emperor.
The complex was adjacent to the Terme Surane, powered by the Acqua Marcia (where the site of the church was located) and bordered to the south by a house where there was a large apse. In the second century there is a two-aisled building on which stands the church of Santa Prisca, perhaps the original Titulus of the place of worship. Not far from the place, according to the Urban Form there is a temple, certainly a republican temple, but it is not sure whether it is the temple of Luna or the temple of Vertumnos. On the other side is the temple of Diana. The church itself was built between the fourth and fifth century, in the following documents, mentioned as titulus Aquilae et Priscae, to which the S. Donati monasterium was annexed. The church was restored by Pope Adrian I, damaged by the Normans in the sack of Rome (1084), it was restored under the pontificate of Pasquale II; moreover, following a fire, the fire of Pope Callistus III, between 1455 and 1458 had the first four bays of the central and lateral aisles demolished. In view of the jubilee of 1600, the architect Carlo Lombardo was commissioned to restore the church in Baroque style. Closed to worship in 1798 during the French occupation, the church was restored in 1935.
The Church, of Catholic-Roman worship, was officiated until the ninth century by the Basilian monks of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, and replaced by the Benedictines; the Franciscans will take over first in 1414, then the Dominicans in 1455 and finally the Augustinians in 1600. The Roman Domus below, according to tradition, was readapted to titulus, or place of Christian worship, in 57 by the couple of tent manufacturers Aquila and Priscilla, in whose house the presence of a Christian community is attested in the Letter to the Romans (Romans 16, 3-5). The mithraeum is oriented towards the east, that is towards the point where the sun rises, where is the altar. The god Mithras is shown to you while he slays the bull, symbol of evil, after having captured it inside a cave. Mithraic mythology tells us that Mithras, in the attempt of his deeds, had the patronage of the old cosmic gods. Ocean or Neptune depicted as a river deity. It is the dog that is the faithful companion of Mithras in the search for the bull. The bull's tail ends in the shape of a large ear of wheat, a symbol of fertility and vegetation that originated from the blood that escaped from the outgoing bull. The mithraeum is built at the end of the century, in the same period in which some other rooms are renovated. These building activities seem an interesting coexistence of the two religious cults - Christian and Mithraic
Santa Prisca (I century), to whom the Church is dedicated, was, according to the Catholic tradition which considers her a saint, a young Roman woman, daughter of Aquila and Priscilla, martyred under the emperor Claudius (41- 54).
As to use :

The research activity could be introduced with the media suggested. Subsequently the class can be divided into two groups, one that can research and narrate the history of Aquila and Priscilla and Saint Prisca (from hagiographic websites) and the other can work on the religion of Mithras, listing all the signs that can be found in the basilica (frescoes, remains of architecture).
The activity aims to highlight the coexistence of the two cults - Christian and Mithraic.



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This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.