Rome, Italy

Santa Francesca Romana, Rome, Italy

This particularly striking and handsome church stands at one end of the Roman Forums and is often overlooked by people hurrying to and from the Colloseum.

The church has one of Rome's most impressive "Romanesque" bell towers and a very typical Baroque frontage, but it is probably the myths and legends associated with the church which make it most interesting.

It was originally founded as Santa Maria Nova, but was reconsecrated when Francesca of Trastevere was canonised in 1608. Inside is a curious stone with odd indentations in it. These are supposed to be the knee imprints of Saints Peter and Paul. When one Simon Magus, a magician, was proving his powers by levatating above the Forum the two Saints - eager to humble him before God - fell to their knees and prayed. This caused Simon's powers to fail and he plummetted to his death!

Every year on 9th March the more religious drivers of Rome trying to park as close to the church as is possible - no mean feat considering the only road close to it is the thundering dual-carriageway of the via dei Fori Imperiali. St Francesca Romana is the patron saint of motorists!

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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