Santa Maria in Trastevere, Rome, Italy

Santa Maria in Trastevere, Rome

Santa Maria in Trastevere is a minor basilica in Trastevere, a district of Rome. It is one of the oldest in the city and is possibly the first church in which mass was openly celebrated. It is also believed to be the first church in Rome to be dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The origins of the church are unclear but tradition has it that the origins go back as far as Pope Calixtus who was martyred near this spot in 222, although other claims are that it was first built around 313. The church was rebuilt in 1140 under Pope Innocent II. Pope Gregory IV founded a college of priests here in the early 9th century and this was strange at this time as Trastevere was not a diocese of Rome until the 14th century. In 1702 a Narthex, or entrance, was added and in the 1860′s the church was restored, sadly many of the archeological materials were destroyed.

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