Basilica of Santi Cosma and Damiano

The Basilica of Saints Cosma and Damiano (Cosmas and Damian) is dedicated to physician twins who were reputedly martyred in Roman Syria under Diocletian. In 527, this was the first building in the Roman Forum to be converted to Christian usage, and occupies part of the site of Vespasian’s Templum Pacis or Forum of Peace. This is where the treasures from the Temple of Jerusalem were housed, and where Galen lectured, so a nice medical link of sorts.

A modern sculpture looks out over the Forum and imperial Fora.

Visitors also get a close up view of the imposing 4th Century Basilica of Constantine.

The basilica’s cloister feels miles away from the tourists and bustle of the Roman Forum and via dei Fori Imperiali. And it’s hard to believe the Colosseum is only a 5 minute walk away. The courtyard gives access to the basilica’s famed presepe or Christmas crib. It’s also a reminder that the site has been home to a Franciscan monastery since the 16th Century.

Inside, and the church is renowned for its gorgeous 6th Century mosaic apse depicting the twins being presented to Jesus by St Peter and St Paul. No one knows which twin is which. Pope Felix, on the left, carries a model of the original church. Saint Theodorus is also present.

The window in the picture below used to be an entrance point for the church from the forum’s Temple of Romulus, reflecting the previous connectivity between the two parts of the site.

… and this is the view from the temple of Romulus in the forum below…

There’s more ancient Forum heritage as the entrance hall is thought to be the location of the famed marble map of Rome. So this is a church with many layers of history to explore.

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