We have been in Rome for two Sundays. On both Sundays, we attended mass at the Church of Santa Susanna. Saint Susanna was martyred in 293 AD. She had refused to enter into a political marriage that her uncle the emperor, Diocletian, had wanted. Her refusal made him angry, whereupon he ordered her to worship the Roman god, Jupiter. She refused to let government dictate what she can believe. She was beheaded with an axe in her own home. Her family was wealthy and the church is built over the structure of their original home. The first church that was built on this site was built in 330 AD. In the current church are the remains of the martyrs: Santa Susanna (293 AD), her father, Saint Gabinus (295 AD), Saint Felicity (165 AD), Saint Genesius (303 AD), and Saint Eleutherius (189 AD). The building has been renovated many times over the years.
Signs on the outside of Santa Susanna: 1595 is the signature of the completion of the interior of the church as we see it today. Jerome Rusticucci was the Vicar-General of Pope Sixtus V and Cardinal-priest of Santa Susanna Church.
During the tour of Santa Susanna, Rosanna had mentioned that the paintings at Santa Susanna were done about the same time as the paintings were being done at St. Peter’s. There was at least one at Santa Susanna that was done when the ‘trick of the eye’ (trompe l’oeil) technique was just beginning. She said the technique was perfected by the time they did San Ignazio which is one of the best decorated churches in Rome. We would see San Ignazio later that day.
On the walk back from Santa Susanna, we took photos at the Corner of 4 Fountains (Quattro Fontane), and passed the Quirinale on the way to Via Della Pilotta to take photos of the many elevated pedestrian bridges I had noticed last Sunday. As we approached the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, there were some of the tall pine trees with spindly trunks and tufts of green on top that are in many parts of Rome. I just love the way those trees are trimmed right up to the top! They are particularly effective on tops of hills.
The Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II is the largest modern monument in Rome, and one of the largest of all time. It is Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II, or simply Vittoriano. “It was erected in honor of King Victor Emanuele II who achieved the unification of Italy in 1870 with Rome as the capital city. The monument was begun in 1885 and inaugurated in 1911.” (Michelin Guide) The Fodor guide book describes it as “neo-imperial grandiosity at its most bombastic”. We asked a passerby to take our photo with this monument in the background.
Further on our walk, we visited Sant’ Ignacio, the church named for the founder of the Jesuits. It was highlighted in several guidebooks as over-the-top baroque: gilt-encrusted, jewel-studded, stupendously stuccoed. When inside, the only thing that caught our attention is the ceiling fresco in the nave. Wow! It appears as an image of the resurrection on the last day — people from the four corners of the earth are soaring higher and higher in heaven following Jesus and his cross. Highlighted close to Jesus is Saint Ignatius, of course. It is a wonderful perspective, a great fresco. I want to be in that painting.