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  4. Sant'Agnese fuori le Mura

Sant'Agnese fuori le Mura, Rome

, Rome. View all images in our Sant'Agnese fuori le Mura Photo Gallery.
The shady entrance to the ancient church.
Artifacts from the catacombs line the stairway into the church.
Interior of the Church of St. Agnes.
Apse mosaic.
Tomb of St. Agnes.
Entrance to the catacombs.
Chapel of St. Sabina in the catacombs. Photo © Sant'Agnese.
Another catacomb at Sant'Agnese. Photo © Sant'Agnese.
Ex-votos in the gardens of Sant'Agnese.

The Basilica di Sant'Agnese Fuori le Mura (Basilica of St. Agnes Outside the Walls) is a 7th century church in Rome. It is notable for its mosaics, shrine of the virgin martyr St. Agnes, and catacombs.


Saint Agnes was a member of Roman nobility born in 291 and raised in a Christian family. She suffered martyrdom at age 13 during the reign of the Eastern Roman Emperor Diocletian, on January 21, 304.

According to tradition, the prefect Sempronius wished her to marry his son, and on her refusal condemned her to death. Roman law did not permit the execution of virgins, so he ordered her to be raped beforehand, but her honor was miraculously preserved.

St. Agnes was led out to be burned at the stake, but the bundle of wood would not burn. The officer in charge of the troops drew his sword and struck off her head.

Saint Agnes is the patron saint of young girls. Folk custom called for them to practice rituals on Saint Agnes' Eve (20th-21st January) with a view to discovering their future husbands. This superstition has been immortalized in John Keats's poem, "The Eve of Saint Agnes."

She is represented in art as holding a palm-branch in her hand and a lamb at her feet or in her arms.

Today, the Church of St. Agnes is overseen by a French traditionalist order.

What to See

The current basilica, as rebuilt by Honorius in the mid-7th century, stands over an early Christian catacomb. In the 4th century, the soft rock was hollowed out around Saint Agnes's tomb to create a gathering space, probably for her family to observe the anniversary of her death. The visits of her family and friends spread early to others in Rome, and the site became a place of pilgrimage.

By 340, Costanza, daughter of emperor Constantine, enlarged the underground area and built a large private mausoleum over it which is now known as the "mausoleo di Santa Costanza." According to legend, Constanza had been afflicated with leprosy and was cured after praying at the tomb of St. Agnes.

The church of Saint Agnes was then built next to the mausoleum in the 7th century. The floor level of the 7th-century church is at the level of the catacomb floor, and the public street entrances are at the level of the second floor gallery.

The body of St. Agnes lies in a silver sarcophagus that can be seen in the Basilica of St. Agnes Outside the Walls. Her head is in the Church of Sant’ Agnese in Agone in the Piazza Navona.

Festivals and Events

On January 21, the feast day of St. Agnes, two lambs are specially blessed by the pope after a pontifical high Mass, and their wool is later woven into pallia, ceremonial neck-stoles sent by the popes to new Metropolitan-archbishops to symbolise their union with the papacy.

Quick Facts on Sant'Agnese fuori le Mura

Site Information
Names:Sant'Agnese in Agone; Sant'Agnese in Agone, Rome
Categories:Churches; Shrines; Catholic Shrines
Faiths:Christianity; Catholic
Styles:Romanesque; Paleochristian
Visitor and Contact Information
Location:Rome, Italy
Coordinates:41.898847° N, 12.472567° E  (view on Google Maps)
Lodging:View hotels near this location
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

Map of Sant'Agnese fuori le Mura

Below is a location map and aerial view of Sant'Agnese fuori le Mura. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.


  1. Personal visit (July 19, 2006).
  2. Matilda Webb, The Churches and Catacombs of Early Christian Rome (Sussex Academic Press, 2001), 96-98.
  3. Sant'Agnese fuori le Mura - official website
  4. St. Agnes of Rome - Catholic Encyclopedia

More Information

Article Info

Title:Sant'Agnese fuori le Mura, Rome
Author:Holly Hayes
Last updated:09/12/2010
Link code:<a href="http://www.sacred-destinations.com/italy/rome-sant-agnese/rome">Sant'Agnese fuori le Mura, Rome</a>