July 20th, 2009


Santa Maria in Trastevere

Mosaic of nursing Mary in Santa Maria in Trastevere

Friday, 6/26 - Rome

On our first day in Rome, in the midst of trying to keep ourselves up for 30 hours straight to stave off jet lag, we headed down the street from our hotel to see the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere. (Trastevere, where we stayed, is a region of Rome across the Tiber from the rest of Rome: Trastevere = trans-tiber-y.) It is (may be) the first place, ever, where mass was openly celebrated, and the first church dedicated to Mary the Mother of God. Above, you can see part of the 12th-century mosaic on the façade, which is apparently the earliest iconic representation of Mary nursing. (Edit: Downsampling is unkind to mosaics; I recommend clicking on the picture, then clicking the "All sizes" button on the Flickr page to see it larger.)

Pope Callixtus (maybe) founded the church in the 3rd century, and Pope Innocent II rebuilt it in the 12th. Both of them are (supposedly) buried in the church. You can see Mini Innocent II kneeling at Mary's feet, above.

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My complete set of Santa Maria in Trastevere photos is up on Flickr, and as I add new sets they will go into my Italy 2009 collection.