Sant'Agnese in Agone

Chiesa di Sant'Agnese in Agone

The church of Sant'Agnese in Agone is located on Piazza Navona and devoted to the Early Christian Saint Agnes. According to a legend Saint Agnes was born and raised in a Christian family. Details of her story are unreliable, but legend tells that the young man, slighted by Agnes's resolute devotion to religious purity, submitted her name to the authorities as a follower of Christianity. Furious Prefect found out that she was Christian (it was the time when Christians were persecuted by the order of the emperor Diocletian) and confronted the young girl with a choice: she had to make sacrifice to the Roman gods or otherwise she would be thrown to a brothel. Agnes rejected to honour the pagan gods and Prefect ordered to send her to the brothel.

Various versions of the legend give different methods of escape from this predicament. In one, as she prayed, her hair grew and covered her body and later an angel brought her a shawl. It was also said that all of the men who attempted to rape her lost any desires of the body. In another the son of the prefect was struck dead, but revived after Agnes prayed for him. She was then sentenced to death for being a witch and when led out to die she was tied to a stake, but the bundle of wood would not burn, or the flames parted away from her, whereupon the officer in charge of the troops drew his sword and beheaded her. It is believed that Agnes was 12-13 years old.

Head of the Saint is kept in the church while her body was buried in the catacombs named after her and the church of Sant'Agnese in Agone was built over the catacombs. Some very famous masters participated in the construction of this Baroque church including Girolamo Rainaldi and his son Carlo Rainaldi. The magnificent facade of the church was designed by Francesco Borromini. There are some large scale sculptures, paintings and stuccoes in the church. There is a statue devoted to Saint Agnes, fresco The Saint Agnes in Glory and marble relief Beautiful Hair of Saint Agnes. There are also several tombs in the church. The tomb of Innocent X who ordered to build the church stands at the entry.

Address: Via di Santa Maria dell'Anima, 30/A
Opening hours: Tue-Sat 9.30 am – 12.30 pm, 15.30 pm – 7 pm; Mon closed; Thu at 6.30 pm and Fri at 7 pm concerts of chamber and classical music
Coordinates: 41.898841, 12.472542