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Rome Reports

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Ancient church in Rome dedicated to St. Nicholas

All of the churches in Rome have invaluable historical and cultural treasure, such as this small but impressive basilica next to the Theater of Marcellus. It's dedicated to a saint from early times, St. Nicholas.

The basilica “San Nicola in Carcere” was built from parts of three Roman temples. Underneath it are its bases next to Foro Olitorio, which was an ancient market. Human bones are also preserved in its remains.

It has the name “in Carcere” because of its close location to an old Roman prison. The actual church was consecrated in 1128.

Rector, Basilica San Nicola in Carcere
“It became a very important church. It had all of Rome's relics, because St. Peter's basilica didn't exist yet. It had a council and a parish; it was a very active church and underwent many reconstructions.”

Inside are paintings of St. Nicholas' life. There is the saint in heaven, next to Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary. There's also Pope Pius IX, who promoted this temple.

Below is a presentation of St. Nicholas at the Council of Nicaea. There, it's believed the saint slapped Arius for wanting to adulterate the Catholic faith.

Throughout the church there are other scenes from his life. There's his birth, his service to the needy and the miracle of his resurrection of three sacrificed children.

The figure of St. Nicholas is an important figure for Christians, being a common point for Catholics and Orthodox Christians.

Rector, Basilica San Nicola in Carcere
“St. Nicholas is from the fourth century, before the schism. This is why he's important to everyone. All of his followers considered him a saint during his life.”

Advisor to the Ecumenical Patriarch in Rome
"What made St. Nicholas so special was his pastoral work, which he practiced even to the point of risking his life. He was close with the people.”

In addition to being the patron saint of Russia, Greece and Turkey, his figure is also well-loved in Latin America. Additionally, his example of service to the needy inspired the creation of the popular figure, Santa Claus.

Although he's more than just Christmas stories, St. Nicholas' exemplary life of giving to the needy makes him one of the most popular saints in the world.

Daniel Díaz Vizzi
Translated: Rachel Dobrzynski