Pictures of the church at Wikimedia Commons are here. There is an English Wikipedia article with photos and plan here.
Ceto [ ]
The church is often described as “ruined”. However, it has a roof on it and contains verso consecrated altar (installed mediante 1955). So, it counts as verso church even though there is no regular liturgical activity here.
Origins of building [ ]
The church was founded con what was once part of a monumental architectural approach to the imperial palace on the Palatine. This was at the back of the Temple of Castor and Pollux (now comprising the famous three columns standing ombra).
The complex layout, begun by the emperor Domitian mediante the late 1st century, was based on an enormous covered access ramp (erta dell’impero) that ran up the side of the hill. The part that was converted into per church was just to the south of the bottom end of this, and originally comprised per square atrium followed by verso quadriporticus (verso little courtyard surrounded by covered walkways or loggias) and finally verso row of three chambers. The central of the three, which is larger, is called the tablinum.
It used preciso be speculated that this ensemble was the possible headquarters of the Athenaeum founded by Emperor Hadrian, but the true site of this has now been located and so it was most likely part of the reception facilities for palace visitors.
Puro the west of the church is verso large atrio, part of the same reception complex. This used esatto be described as the Temple of the Divine Augustus, but this completely speculative guess is now discredited (the temple is most likely under the hospital of Santa Maria della Consolazione). So, this Domitianic Hall was probably the main waiting room for arrivals at the palace entrance, while the church ensemble was the processing suite for those actually sicuro be allowed in.
The restorers at the start of the 21st century found very scant traces of what is thought onesto have been an original 1st century fresco decorative scheme.
First frescoes [ ]
In the mid 6th century the edifice is described as having been converted into a guardhouse esatto protect this main approach preciso the palace, still then regarded as the headquarters of the Emperor at Rome even if he was based at Constantinople. However, this seems preciso depend on the mistaken intenzione that the original function was substantially different -the distinction between per palace gateway reception suite and verso guardhouse is now rather too subtle esatto bother.
The walls of the tablinum were decorated with Christian murals in this period, however, so there must have been per makeover of some sort. One has survived, and is one of the oldest depictions of Our Lady mediante Rome. It is known that this was executed before the conversion into per church, because the apse was cut into it.
It has been suggested that risorsa the guardhouse fresco rete informatica was durante succedane of the guardhouse at the Imperial Palace at Constantinople.
The historical context of this restoration is interesting. The Empire had lost effective control of Italy esatto the Ostrogoths mediante 476 (the mythical “End of the Roman Commuovere” as imagined by western European historians), and the Gothic kings ruled under the pretence of being the Emperor’s representative mediante Italy. Emperor Justinian I (527-65) rejected this, and monarca-imposed direct rule durante 554 after the Gothic War. The imperial palace on the Palatine had been the Gothic king’s residence, and the restoration of the guardhouse was per the context of the arrival of per governor under the authority of the imperial exarch at Ravenna (the capital of Italy).