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Pope Saint Paschal I kneels at the foot of the Virgin Mary - apse mosaic from the early 800s.











Santa Maria in Domnica was built on the site of the Castra Peregrina barracks for non-Italian soldiers of Imperial Rome.  The present church is substantively the same as the building which emerged from one of the three major church rebuilds undertaken in Rome by Pope St Paschal I (? - 814 - 824) (the other two were Santa Prassede and Santa Cecilia in Trastevere). 


All three churches still have beautiful arch and apse mosaics made from  brilliant glass tesserae mosaic squares, though this apse basin is unique in featuring the Virgin Mary and Child.  In each case Paschal is pictured with the square blue halo of a "living saint".  This is the only one of the three which does not have a visually obstructive Ciborium / Baldacchino added as an improvement (not) by a later generation.


The church was given a major uplift in the second decade of the 1500s by Cardinal Giovanni de'Medici (later the first Medici Pope - Leo X).  He left the usual oversized set of Medici balls on a ceiling panel.  The other carved wooden ceiling panels relate to the litany of the Virgin.


Leo also organized the water feature, which incorporates a stone boat with a hog's head bow dating from ancient Roman times (possibly a votive offering).


Like many Roman churches, Santa Maria in Domnica is closed for a long lunchtime, but we were very glad we had the fortitude to hang around until it reopened, as it is a beautiful well proportioned basilica space with an air of great peace (and only the occasional lost tourist).


Postcard photo











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