Mithraeum San Clemente


Useful Information

Location: Piazza San Clemente, Via Labicana 95, Rome. (41.889378° N, 12.497448° E)
Open: All year Mon-Sat 9-12:30, 15-18, Sun 10-12:30, 15-18.
[2014]
Fee: Adults EUR 5.
[2014]
Classification: ExplainCave Church
Light: electric
Dimension:  
Guided tours:  
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Address: Mithraeum San Clemente, Piazza San Clemente, Via Labicana 95, Rome, 00184, Tel: +39-06-7740021, Fax: +39-0,
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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History

64 BC earlier structures destroyed in the great fire under Nero.
1st cty BC insula (apartment building) and mansion built.
2nd cty Christian community titulus Clementis meets at he mansion.
3rd cty inner courtyard of the insula transformed into a Mithraeum.
4th cty mansion transformed into Christian church.
1084 church badly damaged during the Norman attack of Rome.
1108 new church built above.
1857 old layers rediscovered by the Irish Dominican Father Mullooly.
1914 first excavated.

Description

Below the Basilica of San Clemente from the 12th century, lie the ruins of a 4th century basilica. And even below is a 1st century BC Roman House. During the millennia one building was erected above the other. The 3rd-century Temple of Mithras, part of the roman house, was deliberately destroyed when the first church was built in the 4th century.

The Mithraeum of Basilica San Clemente, which was excavated in 1914, is part of this Roman house. It has a typical architecture, a rectangular room with benches on either side, culminating in a cult niche. There is a stone altar with a relief of the tauroctony. This is the center of each mithraeum, the scene where the god Mithras kills the bull in a cave. Its one of the reasons why mithras temples are always undergound.

The arched roof of the San Clemente temple contains 11 holes. Scholar W. Marburg Lentz identified four as ventilators. The other seven may represent seven celestial bodies, which could be an hint that Mithraic iconography has ties to star maps and equinoxes.