San Cesareo in Palatio

San Cesareo in Palatio or San Caesareo de Appia is a titular church in Rome, near the beginning of the Appian Way. It is dedicated to Saint Caesarius of Africa, a 2nd century deacon and martyr.



In the 4th century, Emperor Valentinian was cured at the shrine of Caesarius at Terracina, the site of his martyrdom. The emperor then decided to move his relics to Rome. They were taken to a church on the Palatine Hill, and when they were later moved to a new church, that church got the name "in Palatio", "at the Palace". It is also known as San Cesareo de Appia.

Excavations have revealed a Roman bath on the site from the 2nd or 3rd century, with a huge black and white mosaic depicting Neptune and marine creatures, along with foundations of what is thought to be the first church here, built in the 8th century.


No written evidence exists for the church's origins however, for the first time it is mentioned in the written sources is 1192. In the Middle Ages, the church was part of a hospice and hospital for pilgrims, and had a column in front of it to demonstrate this.

17th century

The present church is the result of Pope Clement VIII's rebuild in 1602/3, under the instructions of the antiquarian Cesare Baronio, who was then titular here and whose house survives. Clement's coat-of-arms (the Aldobrandini family) was added to the coffered ceiling (which has St Caesarius is depicted in the central panel). Frescoes were added to the Giacomo della Porta facade at this date, though they have been lost to pollution. The Cosmatesque pulpit, balustrades, altar frontal and episcopal chair behind the altar (in pale blue, unusual in Cosmatesque work) may have been brought here at this time from San Giovanni in Laterano, although it may also have come from other churches, when the transepts of St John were at this time. The paintings between the windows are also 17th century, by Cavalier D'Arpino and Cesare Rosetti, depicting the martyrdoms of St Caesarius and several saints named Hippolytus (as a compliment to Pope Clement VIII, who was baptized as Ippolito). Cavalier D'Arpino also produced the design for the rare motif in the mosaic, God the Father.

20th century

Another restoration occurred in the years 1955 to 1963.

John Paul II was the titular cardinal of this church.


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