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 Essential Architecture-  ROME

Santa Costanza




Rome, Italy


350, converted into a church in 1256. 


Early Christian Roman




Mausoleum Church
  View of the mausoleum of Santa Costanza from the Constantinian cemetery basilica.
  Detail of a mosaic in Santa Costanza, with scenes of vintage.

Santa Costanza is a church in Rome, built under Emperor Constantine I and place of burial (mausoleum) of his daughters Constantina and Helena. Later, Constantina was venerated as saint, with the Italian name of Costanza, and the church was dedicated to her.

The church was built under Constantine, probably by Constantina, next to the cemetery of Sant'Agnese fuori le mura, where Saint Agnes, who allegedly had healed Constantina, was buried. After their deaths, Constantine daughters, Constantina and Helena, were buried here[1].

Since Consantina was venerated as saint, the mausoleum was consecrated as a church in 1254 by Pope Alexander IV.

The church was restored in 1620 by Cardinal Fabrizio Veralli.

Location and structure
The existing building that is Santa Costanza rests at the southern flank of the cemetery basilica of Santa Agnese Fuori le Mura, not far from the Via Nomentana some three kilometers north of the gates of Rome. The circular building is twenty-nine meters in diameter, with a central circular chamber eleven and a half meters wide, separated from a ring-shaped ambulatory by twelve pairs of radiating columns.

Santa Costanza's exterior survives today in its original condition except for the loss of its outer ambulatory. What remains of the interior of the building is ornately decorated with marble and tesserae mosaics which hint at a rich patronage of both pagan and early Christian provenance. The twelve pairs of columns which encircle the central chamber are of fine green and red marble, and are colour coordinated to the points of the cross. The ambulatory ceiling is vaulted, and decorated with mosaics which recall classical themes of Bacchic myth and early Christian beliefs. These same mosaics, like much of Santa Costanza have also been interpreted as discussing notions of the after-life.

^ According to Stanley, it is possible that since the church was in origin a martyrium dedicated to the worship of St. Agnes, Constantina was not buried here, but inside the Constantinian basilica of Santa Agnese. 

Lehmann, Karl. Sta. Costanza. Art Bulleting, 1955, Vol 37 193-196. 
Stanley, David J. New Discoveries at Santa Costanza. Dumbarton Oaks, 1994, Vol 48 257-261. 
Il Mausoleo di S. Costanza, from the official site of the church of Santa Agnese fuori le Mura 
Nyborg, Chris, "Santa Costanza", Churches of Rome