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Chiesa di Santa Susanna
Country: ItalyAddress: Via Antonio Salandra 6, 00187 Roma
Website: www.santasusanna.org Uploaded artworks: 1 Uploaded artist: 1
Santa Susanna (Italian - Chiesa di Santa Susanna alle Terme di Diocleziano) is a church on the Quirinal in Rome, with a titulus at its site that dates back to about 280. The modern church, rebuilt in 1585â€“1603, is the Englishâ€“speaking Roman parish which ministers to American Catholics living in or visiting Rome. Since 1958, the Archbishop of Boston has held the post of Cardinal Priest of Santa Susanna. However Bernard Francis Law, who resigned his post as archbishop in 2002, has retained this position. The Paulist Fathers have served Santa Susanna since the 1920s.
About 280, an early Christian house of worship was established on this site, which, like many of the earliest Christian meeting places, was in a house (domus ecclesiae). The domus belonged, according to the sixth-century acta, to brothers named Caius and Gabinus, prominent Christians. Caius has been identified with Pope Saint Caius and with Caius was a prefect who is the source of information on early Christianity. Gabinus or Gabinius is the name given to the father of the semi-legendary Saint Susanna. According to the acta, his brother Gabinus had a daughter, Susanna. Her earliest documented attestations identify her as the patron of the church, not as a martyr and previously the church was identified in the earliest, fourth-century documents by its titulus "of Gaius" by the Baths of Diocletian or as "ad duas domos" ("near the two houses") It is mentioned in connection with a Roman synod of 499.
Traditionally, the structure officially became a church around 330, under Constantine I, when the basilicas of numerous house churches came to be adapted for liturgical use. The basilica was T-shaped with a central nave with twelve columns on each side, flanked by side aisles. All that are left of these two side aisles, after the late 16th century rebuilding, are the two side chapels of the basilica church.
From the synod of 565, the church appears under the titulus of Susanna; the veneration of Susanna has been localized on this site without a break ever since. In the contemporary acta, Susanna is martyred with her family when the girl refuses to marry the son of emperor Diocletian; the occasion of Susanna's martyrdom is a literary trope that is familiar in other passions of virgins in the Roman Martyrology 
Pope Sergius I restored it at the end of the 7th century, but Pope Leo III, the fourth pope who had been pastor of this church, rebuilt it from the ground in 796, adding the great apse and conserving the relics of the saints in the crypt. A vast mosaic of Christ flanked by Leo and the Emperor Charlemagne and Saints Susanna and Felicity on the other was so badly damaged in the 12th century by an earthquake, that the interior was plastered over in the complete renovation that spanned the years 1585â€“1602 and frescoed by Cesare Nebbia (1536â€“1614).
A faĂ§ade remained to be constructed. The present church of Santa Susanna on its ancient foundations was the first independent commission in Rome for Carlo Maderno, who had trained as an assistant to his uncle Domenico Fontana, the chief architect of Pope Sixtus V. In 1603, Maderno completed the faĂ§ade, a highly influential early Baroque design. The dynamic rhythm of columns and pilasters, crowding centrally, and the protrusion and increased central decoration add further complexity to the structure. Notice the interplay of relationships, none exactly symmetric on any one mirror side. The entrance and roof are surrounded by triangular pediments. The windows replaced by niches. There is an incipient playfullness with the rules of classic design, still maintaining rigor.
Santa Susanna was accounted so successful that in 1605 Pope Paul V named Maderno architect of Saint Peterâ€™s Basilica, where he completed the nave and constructed the great facade.
Among the previous Cardinal Priests is Pope Nicholas V (1446).
Entombed in the church are five early church martyrs and Saints: Susanna, her father Gabinus, Felicity of Rome, Pope Eleuterus, and Genesius of Rome.
Fresco detail in Santa Susanna depicting the martyrdom of St. Felicity, by Paris Nogari.
The commemoration of Saint Susanna has long been linked in the Toman calendar with Saint Tiburtius, 11 August (See Saints Tiburtius and Susanna).
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