The church of Santa Francesca Romana, once known as Santa Maria Nova, stands next to the Forum. The church started life as an oratory, which was established during the reign of Pope Paul I (r. 757-67 ) in part of the ancient Temple of Venus and Roma.
By the 10th century a church was known on this site as Santa Maria Nova to distinguish it from another church in the Forum dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Santa Maria Antiqua, which had fallen into ruin.
Santa Maria Nova was rebuilt during the reign of Pope Honorius III (r. 1216-27), who added the bell tower and the beautiful mosaics in the apse.
The painter Gentile da Fabriano (c. 1370-1427) is buried in the church.
In the 17th century, Santa Maria Nova was rededicated to St Frances of Rome (Francesca Buzzi), who was canonised in 1608. Her relics are to be found in the crypt.
The interior, a single nave with side chapels, was rebuilt by Carlo Lombardi in the years preceding Francesca Buzzi's canonisation. The same architect designed and built the porch and façade in 1615.
Blogging about Rome:
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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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