The ancient church of Santa Sabina was built by Peter of Illyria, a bishop from Dalmatia, during the reign of Pope Celestine I (r. 422-32).
The church stands on the site of the Titulus Sabinae, the house-church of a Roman matron by the name of Sabina, who is believed to have been martyred during the reign of the emperor Hadrian (r. 117-138).
In the early 13th century the church was granted by Pope Honorius III (r. 1216-27) to the newly created Order of the Dominicans, to which it still belongs.
Santa Sabina is modelled on the basilicas of Ravenna and its nave was once covered in mosaics. Sadly, only the mosaic on the counter-facade survives. The long inscription, which praises Bishop Peter of Illyria, and refers to Pope Celestine I, is flanked by two female figures, personifications of converted Jews (ex-circumcisione) and Gentiles (ex-gentibus).
The wide nave is separated from the aisles by twenty-four magnificent Corinthian columns, which have been recycled from a nearby building from the second century C.E..
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
Search Walks in Rome: