The church of San Bartolomeo all' Isola was founded in the 10th century in honour of St Adalbert, Bishop of Prague. It was restored in 1624 by the Roman architect Orazio Torriani (1602-57).
The interior contains 14 antique columns and an ancient well-head, which has been set into the chancel steps. A porphyry bath from the Baths of Caracalla serves as both the high altar and a reliquary of St Bartholomew, one of the 12 apostles.
The beautifully carved well-head bears the figures of Christ, St Adalbert, St Bartholomew and the Holy Roman Emperor Otto III.
San Bartolomeo all' Isola stands on the Isola Tiberina, a small island in the river Tiber, which was once the site of the ancient Temple of Aesculapius (early 3rd century BCE).
The marble monument (1869) in front of the church is the work of the Roman sculptor Ignazio Jacometti (1819-83). Known as the Guglia di Pio IX (Spire of Pius IX), it was created at the behest of Pope Pius IX (r. 1846-78).
The four niches in the upper part of the monument contain statues of saints who were, in some way, connected to the history of the Tiber Island. The four saints are St Bartholomew, St John of the Cross, St Paulinus of Nola and St Francis.
According to legend, St Bartholomew was martyred by being skinned alive and beheaded. In the Holy Year of 2000, San Bartolomeo all' Isola was dedicated by Pope John Paul II to the memory of the new martyrs of the 20th and 21st century.
Blogging about Rome:
its art, history and culture.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private and
small-group walking tours
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