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Santa Lucia in Selci

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Santa Lucia in Selci

English name: St Lucy at Selci
Dedication: St Lucy
Denomination: Roman Catholic
Type: Titular church,
Clergy: Augustinians
Built: before 8th cent., altered in 17th century
Architect(s): Carlo Maderno Francesco Borromini
Artists: Giovanni Antonio Lelli Cavaliere d'Arpino
Contact data
Address: 82 Via in Selci
00184 Roma
Phone: 06 48 27 623

Santa Lucia in Selci is a convent church dedicated to St Lucy, a 4th century virgin and martyr, on the Esquiline hill. The address is Via in Selci 82, in the rione Monti. Pictures of the church at Wikimedia Commons.[1]

The dedication is to St Lucy of Syracuse.


The church was built no later than the 8th century above the ruins of a Roman structure, the Portico of Livia. The tradition claiming that the first church was built under Pope Symmachus (498-514) is uncertain, but not unlikely. It is documented that it was restored by Pope Honorius I (625-638), and again by Pope Leo III (795-816).

In the early13th century a monastery was built on the site, enclosing the church. This was initially for Benedictine monks, but the convent was granted to the Carthusians later that century. They were there until 1370, when they moved to Santa Croce in Gerusalemme. (Beware of confusion in modern sources; they left in that year, rather than arrived.) A small caretaker community may have remained for the next twenty years or so, as the Carthusians remained as owners of the property. However, in the 15th century the convent seems to have been abandoned and presumably used as a farmstead.

In 1534, the complex was given to Benedictine nuns who had begun life as an informal sisterhood (bizzocche) associated with the convent at Santa Maria della Concezione in Campo Marzio. The new community did not persevere, and in 1568 Pope Pius V granted the convent to the Augustinian nuns who still serve the church. In 1588 the western portion of the extensive property was sold by the Carthusians to enable the foundation of Santa Maria della Purificazione ai Monti, a new Poor Clare nunnery.

It was reconstructed by Carlo Maderno in 1604. He kept it enclosed within the Augustinian monastery, hence there is no external façade.

Pope Urban VIII altered the monastery in 1624, enlarging it and dividing it into three parts. One was kept by the Augustinians, one was given to Dominican friars and the last was given to the Poor Clares.

The church was restored 1637-1638 by Francesco Borromini.

The Poor Clares from the convent adjacent to San Lorenzo in Panisperna came here in 1878, after the secular authorities had forced them to leave that convent. At present, the freehold is owned by the Italian government. The nuns belong to the Federation of Augustinian Nuns of Our Lady of Good Counsel, as do those nearby at Santi Quattro Coronati.


The wooden door is from the 17th century. To the left of the entrance, you can see traces of a 5th century building, with travertine pilasters.

Lucia in Selci

In the atrium wall is a wooden wheel with drawers with which abandoned newborn children were given to the Poor Clares.


The church has a single nave with three chapels on each side. The barrel vault has a 19th century fresco by Giovanni Antonio Lelli, depicting the Glory of St Lucy.

On the counterfaçade is the cantory, designed by Borromini, and God the Father by Cavaliere d'Arpino.

The Landi Chapel is the first chapel on the left. It was designed by Borromini, and is decorated with The Holy Trinity, Saint Augustine and St Monica by Cavaliere d'Arpino.

The tabernacle in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, the second on the left, is in polychrome marble and gilt bronze. It, and the alabaster statues in the chapel, are attributed to Carlo Maderno. The high altar itself is from the 19th century, and replaces one made by Borromini. The mensa of the older altar was reused. The altarpiece by Anastasio Fontebuoni depicts the Annunciation.

At the first altar on the right is the Martyrdom of St Lucy by Giovanni Lanfranco.

The Vision of St Augustine by Andrea Camassei is at the second altar on the right.

The choir is attributed to Francesco Borromini.

Access and LiturgyEdit

The church is usually closed on weekdays. After ascending the steps leading to the door, you will find the church entrance on the left and the convent gate on the right. If the church is closed, ring the bell by the convent gate (within reasonable hours), and ask to be let in. Many of the sisters are from the Philippines, so you should be able to find someone who speaks English. There is no entrance fee, but a donation should be given. You will find it open on Sunday mornings.

The feast of St Lucy is celebrated with great solemnity on 13 December, as is that of St Augustine of Hippo on 28 August.

External linksEdit

Official diocesan web-page

Italian Wikipedia page

Info.roma web page

"Tesoridiroma" web-page

De Alvariis gallery on Flickr

"Hidden Churches of Rome" web-page

"Romeartlover" web-page

Tra Cinque e Seicento (PDF)

"Roma Segreta" web-page

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