The church of Sant' Agnese fuori le Mura was built during the reign of Pope Honorius I (r. 625-38) over the catacombs where Saint Agnes was buried. Although the church was subsequently restored on several occasions, it retains many of its original features.
The beautiful apse mosaic, for instance, survives and depicts St Agnes flanked by popes Honorius (holding a model of the church) and Symmachus (?). Wearing a crown, St Agnes stands on a small platform, from which issue bursts of flames (her funeral pyre?). Over her left arm is draped a white scarf and she holds, in both hands, a scroll sealed with a cross. Both popes are tonsured.
An ancient alabaster statue was turned into a statue of Agnes holding a lamb (her name is similar to the Latin for lamb, Agnus). The bronze additions (1606) are the work of the French sculptor Nicolas Cordier (1567-1612).
The pallium, the stole worn by the pope and metropolitan bishops, is made from the wool of lambs blessed here each year on the feast day of St Agnes (January 21st).
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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