If there’s one thing you see a lot of in Rome, it’s churches. Turn the corner on any street, and within a block you’re likely to see the façade of an ancient Catholic church. You hear a lot about the more famous ones (the major basilicas, the Gesu, the Santa Maria sopra Minerva)—but there are over 900 churches in the city, most of them Catholic.
December 2 is the feast of St. Bibiana, virgin and martyr—I thought I’d share a picture of St. Bibiana’s, a small church located near the Termini train station. Initially built by Pope Simplicius in 467, it was restored by Pope Honorius III in 1224 A.D. Pope Urban VIII commissioned the artist Bernini, who also designed the great colonnade at St. Peter’s Basilica as well as the baldacchino above the great altar in St. Peter’s, to design the present facade. Bernini also sculpted a statue of St. Bibiana which stands inside the church.
It is believed that Apronianus, governor of Rome, ordered the execution of Bibiana. She was tied to a pillar, then scourged with whips tipped with lead until she was dead. The pillar to which she was tied stands just inside the church.
St. Bibiana, her sister Demetria and her mother Dafrosa are all buried under the major altar.