Home » Destinations » Italy » Rome: A Catholic’s Guide to Rome, the “Eternal City” » Rome: Basilica of San Clemente

Rome: Basilica of San Clemente

About the Basilica of San Celmente:

The Church, dedicated to Saint Clement, is built on what is thought to to have been the site of his home.   Saint Clement was the third successor of Saint Peter and reigned during the last decade of the first century.  He was one of the Church’s five “Apostolic Fathers” (those with direct link between the Apostles and later generations of Church Fathers).  Tradition tells us that Pope Clement was martyred sometime between the year 99 and 101 by having an anchor placed around his neck and thrown in the river. The Liturgical Feast of Saint Clement is November 23.


Among those buried here are Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius, apostles to the Slavs.  St Cyril, a brilliant linguist, devised an alphabet, thus becoming the founder of the Slavonic literature. He also adopted Slavonic for the celebration of the liturgy, and circulated a Slavonic translation of the Scriptures.

According to St Cyril’s own report, in 861 AD he recovered the body of St Clement in the Crimea, together with the anchor. Invited to Rome in 867 AD by the Pope, SS Cyril and Methodius took these remains with them, arriving in 868 AD. The body of Saint Clement was solemnly escorted to and interred in San Clemente. A year later, Saint Cyril died in Rome. St Methodius asked for permission to take the body back to Greece. When the Pope and people of Rome would not allow this, St Methodius requested that the burial be in San Clemente itself.

During the French revolution the relics of St Cyril were placed in safekeeping and eventually were lost. In the 1960s the Irish Dominican Fathers discovered a small fragment of the relics. Pope Paul VI personally placed this fragment in the Basilica di San Clemente in the hope ‘that the sacred relics of St Cyril might be a cause of union with the See of Rome.

One of the most interesting aspects of this Basilica is the layers of civilization that you will find…it is like going back in time.  If you start at the bottom, you will see the remains of an earlier pagan temple, then above that is an early 4th century Christian church, and then at street level is the church you see today, which dates from the 12th century.

Finding the Basilica of San Clemente in Rome:

The Basilica is a short walk from the colosseum, as you can see by the map below.

Address:  Via Labicana, 95, 00184 Roma RM, Italy

Click here for the official website of the Basilica of San Clemente in Rome.

⇐ Back to Catholic shrines and places of interest in Rome