The First Churches in Rome

Rome is a city is known for its many churches, constructed both in the ancient and present times. Some of the first churches in Rome are no longer in existence although their relics can be found in the several museums in Rome. The first churches in Rome date back to the fourth century when Christianity was adopted by the Roman Empire. Some of these first Churches have been renovated are still in use today. Before the 4th Century there were no official churches but there were buildings used as churches de facto.

These churches have a grand history and great importance because they formed the basis of the Roman Catholic Church. There are some rules to be observed when entering most of the churches such as adhering to the dress code: men are not allowed to wear shorts or sleeveless tops, or cover their heads. Also quietness and respect must be upheld. Some churches also have opening hours and sometimes you can nor visit during liturgical celebrations.

The first churches of Rome are many in number and we can not name them all in this article. But the following are some examples of these early churches in Rome.

These churches date back to the Fourth century: Old St. Peter’s Basilica, San Martino ai Monti, Santi Quattro Coronati, San Giovanni in Laterano, Santa Susanna, San Marco, San Clemente, San Vitale, Santi Marcellino e Pietro, etc. Fifth century: Santa Sabina, Santa Bibiana, San Giovanni a Porta Latina, Santa Prisca, Santa Maria Antiqua, San Paolo alle Tre Fontane, San Pietro in Vincoli, etc. sixth century: Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Santa Maria in Aracoeli, Santa Lucia in Selci, Santi Cosma e Damiano, San Teodoro, San Lorenzo fuori le Mura, etc. There are many other churches that were among the first to be constructed in Rome.

The site of the very first church to be constructed in Rome was San Giovanni Laterano. This is the Rome’s cathedral and the Church of the Roman popes. The church continued to be Rome’s cathedral until the papacy was moved to France in 1309. Back then, the pope’s residence was in the Lateran Palace. The current church on this site is Baroque and it has a museum with lots of relics and artworks.

Another outstanding church which was among the first churches in Rome is the Pantheon. It was built as the Roman temple of all gods but it was turned into a church by the early Christians in the 7th century. This church has a spectacular structure.  its ancient dome has a circular opening at its top which acts as the only source of light for the whole building.

Another church that can’t go unmentioned is the San Pietro in Vincoli. It was built in the 5th century and is very close to the Colosseum, making it even more popular. The church founded to hold the chains that were believed to have been used to hold St. Peter when he was under captivity in Mamertine Prison. This is also where you can find the famous statue of Moses which was sculpted by Michelangelo.

Most of the first churches of Rome have rich histories and house several Catholic relics. By visiting one of these churches, you will learn more about the history of the Catholic Church and see some of the amazing architecture, statues and art that influenced churches all over the world.