San Gregorio Magno al Celio Church Rome

San Gregorio Magno al Celio Church Rome

The San Gregorio Magno al Celio Church in Rome is also known as the Santi Andrea e Gregorio al Celio and was built in the middle ages on top of the house that belonged to Pope Gregorio Magno and used to serve as a convent. Highlights are the Salviati Chapel inside the church and the Sant’Andrea Oratorium in its garden.

San Gregorio Magno al Celio Church Rome

Address, opening hours and admission

The address of the Chiesa dei Santi Andrea e Gregorio al Celio is Piazza di San Gregorio, 1 – Rome (tel. +39 06 7008227 ). Metro: Circo Massimo. Tram: 3, 8. Bus: 51, 75, 81, 85, 87, 186, 673, 810, C3, N2, N11. Opening Hours (2020): From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 3.30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Admission: Free of charge.

History and description

San Gregorio Magno al Celio Church Rome - Portico
Portico

The San Gregory Magno al Celio Church was founded in the year 575 by San Gregorio Magno. Originally the church was only dedicated to St. Andrew. It was only in the 11th century that the dedication to Gregory was added.

Born in 535, San Gregorio Magno (Gregory the Great, later Pope Gregory I) was a Roman nobleman from the Anicii family. He had transformed his own home into a monastery with a church. This church was dedicated to Sant’Andrea Apostolo.

San Gregorio was proclaimed Pope in 590, while a plague epidemic ravaged the city. He organized a great procession, at the end of which the Archangel Michael appeared and put his sword back in the scabbard, marking the end of the epidemic. The angel landed on the roof of what is now, thanks to this event, called the Castel Sant’Angelo.

As a Pope, Gregory employed a number of English slave boys, who were trained to be monks. After that they were sent back to England in order to work as missionaries.

At the end of the 12th century the church was destroyed by the Normans of Robert Guiscard, but it was rebuilt during the late middle ages.

In 1573, the Pope gave the church to the Camaldolesi monks, who still control it.

In 1600, on the occasion of the Jubilee, the staircase and the church square were restored.

In 1633, Gian Battista Sorìa renovated the facade and the atrium. A commemorative plaque above the entrance refers to this restoration commissioned by Cardinal Scipione Borghese.

In 1725, the interior was reconstructed by Francesco Ferrari. It is, apart from some ancient columns and floor mosaics, entirely built in the Baroque style.

Description

A beautiful staircase leads to the portico of the church. The eagles above the central door and the dragons above the other ones represent the coat-of-arms of the Borghese family.

The interior is divided into three naves separated by 16 columns. Pilasters, ornamental plasterwork and mosaics decorate the church.

Highlights San Gregorio Magno al Celio Church Rome

The Salviati Chapel was designed by Francesco da Volterra and completed by Carlo Maderno. In this chapel one can see an old fresco depicting the “Madonna and Child”. According to tradition the Madonna is supposed to have addressed Saint Gregorio. Andrea Brego was responsible for the marble altar in this chapel.

There are some tombs in the atrium, including that of Sir Edward Carne, who was sent to Rome by Henry VIII in 1561 to discuss the divorce of the king from his first wife Caterina d’Aragona.

The cosmatesque floor of the church dates from the 13th century.

The ceiling of the church is decorated with a painting by Placido Costanzi.

Above the main altar there is a “Madonna with Saints Andrea and Gregorio” by Antonio Balestra.

Next to the Salviati Chapel is the oratory of Pope Gregory I, where one can see his marble papal seat.

Garden, Chapels and Library

To the left of the church there is a garden with 3 chapels dedicated to respectively the Saints Andrew, Silvia and Barbara. The Agapito Library and a number of underground rooms from the time of the Roman Empire can also be seen here.

Santa Barbara Oratorium

The Oratory of Santa Barbara contains the triclinium with the marble table where San Gregorio used to lunch to 12 poor Romans every day. It is built on top of the lower floors of a number of old Roman houses.

Sant’Andrea Oratorium

Guido Reni - Martyrdom of Saint Andrea
“Martyrdom of Sant’Andrea”, Guido reni

The middle of the three is the Oratorio di Sant’Andrea. Here you can see paintings by Guido Reni and Domenichino. The building is characterized by a portico with four antique columns and a coffered ceiling. It was here that the oratory of the church originally founded by the saint stood.

Behind the Oratorium of Sant’Andrea ruins of an auditorium with an apse have been found. This room was probably the library of Pope Agapitus I.

Santa Silvia Oratorium

The Oratorium of Santa Silvia is named after Saint Gregory‘s mother, who was probably buried there as well. It dates from 1602. The paintings are by Guido Reni (“Concert of Angels”), Francesco Mancini and Badalocchio.

Piazza di San Gregorio, 1 – Rome

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