Most of the Church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere in Rome was largely delineated, architecturally speaking, in the 9th, the 15th and the 18th century, when massive restoration works were carried out to an older place of worship dedicated to the martyr. Thus, for instance, the facade was built in 1725, following a design by Ferdinando Fuga.

Yet, the original church was presumably founded in the 5th century, and built on top of the house where the saint used to live. The relics of the saint were, however, brought here no sooner than 822, when, under Pope Paschal, the ancient edifice was rebuilt. The artistic patrimony is quite diverse in regard to the age of its masterpieces. Thus, an outstanding piece refers to the 1293 baldachin designed by Arnolfo di Cambio in a sober Gothic style, flanked by columns and decorated with sculptural representations of saints, angels, evangelists and prophets. Several more recent acquisitions refer to Antonio del Massaro’s frescoes on the ceiling of the Ponziani Chapel (realized in 1470), to the early 17th century altarpieces by Guido Reni rendering Saint Cecilia accompanied by Saint Valerian and martyred, respectively. Earlier artistic treasures refer to Pietro Cavallini’s murals in the choir of the monks (a work created between 1289 and 1293) and to the Cosmatesque decorations in the crypt where the Saint Cecilia’s relics are kept (together with the relics of Saint Valerian).

But the one artistic drawing card of the church refers to the sculptural representation of the Martyrdom of Saint Cecilia. This statue is located in the altar, and depicts the posture of the allegedly incorrupt body of the saint when her tomb was opened in the year 1595. The sculpture was created by Stefano Maderno, in a quasi-Baroque style (it is less dramatic and rather focused on capturing the unaffected posture of the body, with no artistic exaggerations lent by the sculptor to the object of his inspiration, as it is, on the other hand, the case with the typical Baroque style).

Church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere (Chiesa Santa Cecilia in Trastevere)
22, Piazza di Santa Cecilia, 00153, Rome, Italy
0039 06 5899289