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Rome: The Pantheon (Basilica di Santa Maria ad Martyres)

About the Pantheon:

The Pantheon in RomeOriginally used as a temple for the Roman gods, it is one of the best preserved buildings in Rome and the building itself has some interesting characteristics.  The massive dome is the world’s largest un-supported structure..and the 16 granite columns used in its construction were brought from Egypt over 2000 years ago….a major engineering feat.  A hole (oculus) in the center of the dome was designed to let light in, since there are no windows.  And, of course, it allowed heat to escape…a welcome relief in the summer.  What if it rains? The floor is slightly convex with 22 drainage holes that allow the rain to filter through.

The Pantheon was originally designed to honor the pagan gods, but in the year 609 AD, the Pantheon was converted into a Christian church by Pope Bonifcace IV. The name was changed to the Basilica di Santa Maria ad Martyres.

Masses are held on Saturdays and Sundays, and special holy days throughout the year.  Check their website below for the latest information.

Rose petals fall in the Pantheon of Pentecost Sunday
Rose petals fall in the Pantheon of Pentecost Sunday

An annual Pentecost tradition at the Pantheon:

Once a year, on Pentecost Sunday, rose petals are dropped from the oculus of the Pantheon while the “Veni Creator Spiritus” is chanted……symbolizing the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles.


Visiting the Pantheon in Rome:

The Collegiate Basilica of S. Maria ad Martyres is the only church in Rome still governed by a Chapter of Canons (other than the four Papal Basilicas) set up for solemn worship.  The Canons are made up of twelve effective and six honorary priests. Canons are freely appointed by the Cardinal Vicar, according to the rescript of the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II of 26 March 1987.

The Pantheon has an excellent visitor center to help you appreciate every aspect of the Pantheon.

Address:  Piazza della Rotonda, 00186 Roma RM, Italy

Tel:  +39 06 6830 0230

email:  info@pantheonroma.org

Click here for the official website of the Pantheon (Basilica di Santa Maria ad Martyres)

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