The Cappella Albani, in the church of San Sebastiano fuori le Mura (St Sebastian Outside the Walls), dedicated to Pope St Fabian (r. 236-50). How Fabian came to be pope is a curious tale.
According to the fourth-century writer Eusebius, Fabian was present when the election for a new pope began, but was not thought to be in the running for the position. This all changed when a dove suddenly alighted on his head.
To the assembled electors, this recalled the descent of the Holy Spirit on Jesus at the time of his baptism by John the Baptist. They saw it as a sign that Fabian was divinely marked out and he was at once proclaimed bishop of Rome (and thereby pope) by acclamation.
The statue of Pope St Fabian is the work of Pietro Francesco Papaleo.
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 walking tours of Rome.
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