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Oct 11, 2012

San Nicola in Carcere: one church and three pagan temples.



San Nicola in Carcere (St. Nicholas in Prison) is a medieval church dating back to 1128. Probably an ancient prison was supposedly there.
The dedication to St. Nicholas of Myra comes from the fact that the Greek community that venerated the saint occupied the area.
It was remodelled in 1599 by Giacomo della Porta who designed the façade. The bell tower is the fortified tower of the Pierleoni family who occupied this area in the eleventh century. One of the bells is still the one commissioned by Pandolfo Savelli in 1289.
The church occupies the site of three Republican temples in the Forum Holitorium (the ancient Roman fruit and vegetable market) supposedly dedicated to Janus, Juno Sospita and Spes. Remains are incorporated in the walls of church.
In the interior we can admire fine ancient columns from the temples. The Roman remains beneath the church can sometimes be visited: in a medieval burial ground the podiums of the three temples can still be seen and two narrow lanes that separated them.
The church is home to the cult of Mary: Our Lady of Pompeii and that Mexican Our Lady of Guadalupe are venerated here.

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