Italy Chiesa di San Giacomo Maggiore and the Oratorio di Santa Cecilia

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Sue Wolfe

About this spot
Chiesa di San Giacomo Maggiore sits on the Piazza Rossini and was built between 1267 and 1315 by the friars of Saint Agostino. With additions and renovations, the church has different styles—Romanesque on the exterior and Gothic and late Renaissance on the interior.

The façade of the church is the oldest part of the church. The portico originally had 36 Corinthian columns and is the access point for two cloisters. The complex is bound by the only surviving section of Bologna’s 11th century wall. The bell tower was built in 1471 and is approximately 55 meters high.

The Oratorio di Santa Cecilia is within the monastery cloister and has fresco panels by Renaissance painters Francia, Costa, and Aspertini. Cecilia was married to a pagan nobleman named Valerian, despite her vow of virginity. Cecilia told Valerian she would love him if he respected her virginity. According to the story, she told her husband that she was watched over by an angel of the Lord. When he asked to see the angel, Cecilia told him to go to the Via Appia and be baptized. After following her instructions, he saw the angel standing next to her. Cecilia, Valerian, and his brother were later martyred by the Prefect Turcius Almachius. The panels depict Saint Cecilia’s life.

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