The few times that I’ve walked down Via Nazionale in Rome, I’d noticed an obviously old, rather plain, building nestled down a set of steps, metres below current street level. This time, I decided to explore and found that it was the Basilica of San Vitale, a church that has been on this spot since 400 AD. The portico that you can see below is thought to be the oldest part of .the building. Although currently on the Via Nazionale beside the Palazzo degli Esposizioni that you can just see to the left of the picture below, it was originally on the Vicus Longus, a street running from the Baths of Diocletian, specifically San Bernardo alle Terme, to the Forum of Augustus. After centuries when the area had fallen out of favour, with the development of Via Nazionale after Rome joined the new Italy, the church found itself more centrally-located once more
Detail from the door..
The Church is dedicated to Saint Vitale (Vitalis), his wife Valeria and their two sons, wealthy citizens in Milan who may have been killed there for their conversion to Christianity.
It’s quite a simply-structured building – no side chapels, and a single nave. Here’s the view of the spectacular altar:
Scenes of martyrdom, such as this one were common..
It was 8th January, but they were still commemorating the Epiphany period:
And, with Silent Night: unusual for those of us from the UK to hear Christmas carols playing in January.