Basilica of San Clemente
The Basilica of Saint Clement is a Roman Catholic minor basilica dedicated to Pope Clement I located in Rome.
The Basilica of San Clemente (Basilica of St. Clement) is an early Christian basilica in Rome dedicated to Pope St. Clement.
Very little is known about the life of St Clement (92-101 AD). According to the oldest list of Roman bishops, he was the third successor to Saint Peter in Rome .
He is the author of an Epistle to the Corinthians which was written c. 96 AD in the name of the Church of Rome to deal with disturbances in the Church at Corinth. The letter is one of the earliest witnesses to the authority of the Church of Rome and was so highly regarded that it was read publicly at Corinth with the Scriptures in the second century.
St. Clement is revered as a martyr: fourth-century accounts speak of his forced labour in the mines during exile to the Crimea in the reign of the emperor Trajan (98-117 AD) and his missionary work there which prompted the Romans to bind him to an anchor and throw him into the Black Sea. Sometime later, the accounts continue, the water receded, revealing a tomb built by angels from which his body was recovered.
The relics of St. Clement are reserved beneath the high altar of the basilica and on 23 November, the Feast of St. Clement, they are exposed for veneration and carried in solemn procession through the neighbouring streets.
In 1403 a monastic community began to serve San Clemente when Pope Boniface IX introduced the newly-founded Augustinian Congregation of St Ambrose (1379) from Milan. The basilica remained in Ambrosian hands until 1643, when Urban VIII suppressed the whole congregation.
Until the middle of the 19th century it was thought that the present Basilica of San Clemente was that mentioned in 392 AD by St Jerome who wrote that ‘a church in Rome preserves the memory of St. Clement to this day.
In 1857 Fr Joseph Mullooly, O.P., the then Prior of San Clemente, began excavations under the present basilica, uncovering not only the original, fourth-century basilica directly underneath, but also at an even lower level, the remains of a first-century building.
At this third level there are two separate buildings. One is a brick building in the courtyard of which there is a Mithraic temple of the end of the 2nd century. The other is a more magnificent, rectangular structure, constructed around a courtyard.
In the 4th century, the ground-floor rooms of this structure and the courtyard were filled in to the level of the first storey to provide the foundations for a church in memory of Pope Clement . The courtyard of this new level became the nave of the church, while the rooms that once overlooked the old courtyard on either side were converted into the side aisles.
The completed basilica survived until about 1100 AD when it was found that the building was unsafe and should be abandoned. The fourth-century basilica was then filled in with rubble to the top of its pillars and on this foundation a replica of the old basilica was erected.