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San Tarcisio a Via Appia are two late 19th century formerly monastic chapels at Via Appia Antica 102, in the Ardeatino quarter. The house chapel is part of the complex at this address, and an extern chapel is on the driveway from Domine Quo Vadis to the north.

These count as part of the Complesso Callistiano -see Catacombe di San Callisto.

The dedication is to St Tarcisius, originally enshrined in these catacombs.

History Edit

After the rediscovery of the Catacombe di San Callisto by Giovanni Battista de Rossi in 1849 and the subsequent excavation and consolidation, Pope Pius IX chose the Trappist Cistercian monastic order to administer them as a pilgrimage destination. The reason seems to have been because the nearby San Sebastiano fuori le Mura had itself been a Cistercian monastery until the start of the 19th century.

As a result a new monastery was built and opened in 1883, the community coming from Mont des Cats in France.

However, the monks were only here until, 1928 when the monastery closed down. After a pause, the Salesians acquired the premises in 1931 and took on the administration of the catacombs. Initially the former monastery was run as an agricultural school, but when that became rather pointless with the advent of suburbia it was made into a noviciate. This it remains, as the Istituto San Tarcisio.

The modern entrance to the Catacomba di Basileo is adjacent to the main buildings.

Monastery chapel Edit

The former monastery is in between the Via Appia Antica and the driveway from Domine Quo Vadis to the catacombs. The main buildings are arranged around all four sides of a large almost square cloister, but the chapel is off to one side where a side driveway from Via Appia Antica joins the main driveway. In between the chapel and the main claustral complex is a three-storey flat-roofed block.

The chapel is a rectangular edifice with a single nave of five bays. The fabric is in irregular tufo blocks, which is rendered in red ochre on its frontage and right hand side. Oddly, on the left hand side (flanking the side drive) the render has been stripped off, leaving the stonework exposed. The roof is pitched and tiled.

There is no entrance in the frontage, which features a majolica ceramic tondo of the Madonna and Child in an otherwise blank wall. The left hand side wall has five round-headed windows with simply molded white frames. The far right hand side abuts the three-storey block, and the far end abuts sacristy accommodation. The near right hand side has a round-headed window in the first and third bays, but the second bay has an entrance porch.

The porch is worth examining. It has a tiled and gabled roof, and a large entrance arch supported by a pair of piers in naked brick. The plinths of the piers and their capitals are ancient stonework, not matching. The actual doorway has a frame in tiles laid with the edges showing.

Extern chapel Edit

The extern chapel is some distance away, to the north, next to the former monastery's farmstead. As well as administering the catacombs, the Cistercians farmed their land here as this is their traditional occupation as monks.

The chapel now looks disused. It is a simple rectangular stand-alone edifice on the other side of the driveway from the farm buildings, and is side-on to the driveway. The walls are rendered in orange, and the roof is pitched and tiled. The right hand side wall has two round-headed windows, and the left hand one has a tiny sacristy attached. The entrance is accessed by three steps, paved in cobbles, and has a simple round-headed doorway sheltered by a floating gabled and tiled canopy supported by a pair of wooden struts.

External links Edit

Official diocesan web-page

Info.roma web-page

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