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Typology: Monuments


Address: Via Casilina, 641
Zone: Quartiere Prenestino Labicano (Roma est)
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Opening times

Open from Monday to Sunday (closed on Thursday)
h 10-11; 15-16


Reservation required
Tel. +39 339 6528 887
E-mail: santimarcellinoepietro@gmail.com
Website: www.santimarcellinoepietro.it

Full ticket Mausoleo/Antiquarium + Catacombe SS. Marcellino e Pietro = 8 €
Reduced ticket Mausoleo/Antiquarium + Catacombe SS. Marcellino e Pietro = 5 €

Modalità di partecipazione: Booking required


The monument is located in the region once called “ad duas lauros”, crossed by the via Labicana (today via Casilina); it probably owes its name to the presence of two laurels, evidence of the presence of a wood, or the decoration of laurel branches on the walls of a villa. Here stood a big villa, maybe that of the Christian Flavians, chosen as home by the empress Helena.  In this area, part of the imperial estate, was also the cemetery of the Equites Singulares, the imperial escort units. After his conversion, the emperor Constantine built a basilica around 320 AD dedicated to the saints Marcellinus and Peter, buried in the nearby catacombs. Afterwards, between 326 and 330 AD, beside the eastern façade of the basilica was built the circular mausoleum surmounted by a vault, probably used as funerary monument for the emperor and the imperial family, and then used for the burial of Saint Helena, mother of Constantine. The monument is commonly called Torpignattara, for the presence of the amphorae (“pignatte”) that compose the concrete of the vault, in order to lighten the weight of the casting. It is formed by a two-level cylinder: in the lower one were eight alternating rectangular and circular niches, one of which was the entrance. In the other niches were the sarcophagi. St. Helena’s was located in the biggest niche. After being moved in the Lateran by Anastasio IV (1153-1154), it was brought in the Vatican by Pius VI (1775-1799), and today is placed in the so called “Hall of the Greek Cross” in the Vatican Museums. The body of St. Helen was laid in the XII century in the church of S. Maria in Ara Coeli. The red porphyry sarcophagus presents a decoration with war scenes, which let us think that in origin it was not for Helen but for her son Constantine or her husband Constantius Chlorus. The upper cylinder, accessible via a stair between two niches, had eight windows by the lower niches. The walls were covered with marble blocks and there was an altar to celebrate the messes for the repose of St. Helena. During the Middle Ages, the mausoleum was used as a fortress and dwelling, as proven by some 16th century documents. In 1632 Pope Urban VIII build inside it a little church devoted to the Sts. Marcellinus and Peter. Eventually, under Pio XI a modern church was built beside the monument and devoted to the saints.

For more information

Culture and leisure › Green › Gardens, villas and urban parks

See also

Culture and leisure › Cultural heritage › Archaeological heritage
Culture and leisure › Historic places of worship › Catholic Churches
Last checked: 2020-02-19 13:35