Understanding Roman Catholicism part 4


“Be what God wants you to be and you will set the world on fire.”

-Saint Catherine of Siena


  • Sant’Agnese in Agone
  • Basilica of Sant’Agostino
  • San Luigi dei Francesi
  • Basilica di Santa Maria Magdalena
  • The Pantheon
  • Santa Maria sopra Minerva
  • Sant’Andrea della Valle

We began our morning at the famous Piazza Navona. Piazza Navona was the circus (space for foot and horse races) created under Domitian’s rule of Rome. We specifically met at Bernini’s fountain in piazza Navona: “Fountain of the four rivers.” This fountain represents the four main rivers of this time:The Danube, the Nile, the Ganges, and the Rio de la Plata River. From there we visited our first site, Sant’Agnese in Agone which is the Church located at Piazza Navona (it’s hard to miss)!

Sant’Agnese in Agone

Saint Agnes was martyred in this circus under Domitian during a time of sporadic persecution of Christians. She is famous because she was promised in marriage to a pagan, but she was so dedicated to Christ that she refused to marry him. From there she was, Judged to be a traitor at just 14. Her tomb is presently located at the other Basilica di Sant’Agnese, not at this location. Sant’Agnese in Agone is a shrine and holds her skull. So..this is a shrine, not her tomb.

Why do we bother to celebrate Agnes? It is important to know that Her martyrdom was in stages. The first stage is where she was sent to a brothel and raped (in hopes she would “get over Christian thing”). We recognize this atrocity because this still happens.

Most art historians think of this church as the most perfect of the baroque chapels. It is done by Borromini. He did not do all the art, he just designed it all. There are many different marbles used here and they are all gorgeous! Unfortunately there are no photos allowed, but it is an easy place to visit and see for yourself. The art features lot of cherubs. During my time there, a soft Organ playing over the speakers. There are 4 alters than the main one. The domed ceiling’s fresco is one of the most amazing I’ve seen-it is flooded with portraits of hundreds of the holiest. A smaller dome on top enrobed in gold with natural lighting coming through. It is spectacular!

Basilica di Sant’Agostino

Augustine was a pagan but his parents were Christian. Even so, he became a Christian very late. He was a a professor of grammar and literature in Northern Africa who asked his students: “How do you become an articulator of culture?” Later in his life, he met a bishop in Milan named Saint Ambrose. He convinced him of Christianity and baptized him. Now Saint Augustine is one of the most famous old Catholics.

Saint Monica was his mom and she went with him to Italy. On their way back to Northern Africa, Monica died in Ostia Antica, Italy. Her tomb was moved to this particular Church and I got to see it.

Why do we bother with Saint Monica? She is the patron Saint of parents who worry about their children. At this site, women and men alike come to pray for those who are pregnant or are trying to get pregnant. They pray to “Our Lady of a Happy Pregnancy.” This Church also holds Caravaggio’s “Our Lady of the Pilgrims.” One of Raphael’s first frescos is here as well.

San Luigi dei Francesi

This is Rome’s French National Church. Here they hold their liturgy in French. Saint Louis is ver influential as he even has is own city and university named after him! He was the king of France (Saint Louis IX). Here, you can pray for the people of France and see another Caravaggio painting, The Calling of Saint Matthew. This portrays when Jesus called Matthew to serve as he was sitting at tax collecting table. Caravaggio admired Michelangelo and the sistine chapel’s dome piece. Therefore, Jesus is calling Matthew with the same gesture. The main differences it that Matthew is not point to Jesus but is pointing at himself as to say “who..me?” This piece is hung with the intention to portray that Jesus will transform your life and Matthew represents us questioning our position in faith.

Santa Maria Magdalena


This site is located right by the pantheon and is surrounded by a lot of yummy gelato! Santa Maria Magdalena is the most famous Saint after the Virgin Mary.This particular Church was founded by Saint Camillo who established many hospitals and care centers. The Church has a very ornate and unique facade. Here you can reflect on how important are the arts to Roman Catholicism.

Here I left an offering to light a candle for my grandma who spent the end of her life in a care home. I hope that many others can live an amazing life as she did.

The Pantheon


Inside holds the Basilica di Santa Maria ad Martyrs. This is a very famous site, but something that isn’t directly known is that the Pantheon has a perfect spherical architecture. It is one of the most perfect pieces known to man.

Santa Maria sopra Minerva

Here, holds the Shrine of St Catherine who was a women of considerable force in terms of the Catholic church. She and her group called “the beautiful brigade” had a mind of their own. When she came to town, everyone knew. She wanted the pope to listen to her and to change things as she suggested. As such, it has been a long tradition in the Catholic Church for the Saint Women to come forth and give the men a piece of their mind.
Her most famous quote is: “Be what God wants you to be and you will set the world on fire.”

Sant’Andrea della Valle

Saint Andrew is the brother of Saint Peter (who I wrote about a couple posts back & who you should know of if you have any Christian background). This particular Church has a lot of cool things to see-so it was kind of overwhelming. I feel somewhat connected to Saint Andrew as it was my High School dream to attend University in Saint Andrew’s Scotland.

Well there’s the end of it! Another great day learning more about what my University values. This class is a great experience. I get to see things I never would have on my own & it’s a unique way to get to see more of Rome. I feel very fortunate to get to learn from my Professor-whom is incredibly knowledgable and a good person to be around.

Ciao Ciao


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