Chiesa di San Giovanni in Oleo, Rome

4.7
#333 of 526 in Historic Sites in Rome
San Giovanni in Oleo is a small church in Rome, Italy, devoted to Saint John the Evangelist, on the place where, according to tradition, his martyrdom was attempted.
According to an ancient tradition, in 92, St. John survived martyrdom through immersion in a vat of boiling oil, attempted by Domitian himself. The old apostle survived a long while without even being burnt and the crowd demanded that he be spared; Domitian condemned him to exile on the little island of Patmos, where John wrote Revelation. After his exile, he died in Ephesus. This ancient tradition, and the centralized plan of the church, customary for votive oratories on the sites of martyrdoms, support the 5th-century origin of this foundation.
The current church is an octagonal 16th century Renaissance chapel, by the Porta Latina. San Giovanni in Oleo is attributed to Bramante and Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, and was later restored by Borromini, who modified the roof, installing a cross on an orb, decorated with roses and adding a frieze in terracotta with roses and palms. On the door is the coat of arms of the French prelate Benoît Adam, with the motto "Au plaisir de Dieu". The frescos (1716) showing Saint John's attempted martyrdom were painted by Lazzaro Baldi.
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Chiesa di San Giovanni in Oleo Reviews
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  • Parking in front of Porta Latina and walking through it to stop in front of the little church of St. John in Oleo. The tiny oratory is one of Rome's many mysterious and romantic monuments dedicated to the Apostle of the Fourth Gospel. As invariably happens in the gaunt and miraculous descriptions of the tortures suffered by Christians, according to the apocryphal "Acts of John" in that place the Evangelist, in the presence of the Emperor Domitian, was immersed in a container of boiling oil without report any burn. Christians were considered a Jewish sect that did not believe in Roman religion, and the Emperor who had heard of the miracles of the Apostle in the Middle East and Turkey, while visiting Rome challenged him on the sanctity of his religion. After John came out unharmed from the torture, the legend continues, the Romans were very frightened considering him a powerful magician but Domitian spared his life by sending him into exile in Patmos where he wrote the Apocalypse to move later to Epheus where, as Jesus had predicted, he was the only one of the 12 apostles to die in later life and natural death. The style of the apocryphal obviously makes the historical value of the story unlikely and yet some element of truthmust have been, before being manipulated by religious and popular hagiography, because even Tertulliano mentions the immersion of John in the oil without consequences and in his exile at Patmos, as well as curiously his torture is mentioned in the 4th Satire of Juvenal. Although there is no serious historical response, the martyrdom of the Apostle is still located exactly where the small Church was built in his honor in Porta Latina on the ruins of an ancient pagan mausoleum of circular form. Over the decades the Church fell into a progressive state of abandonment, until 1509 when the prelate French Benoit Adam decided to rebuild it and his name is engraved on the western door with the motto "au plaisir de Dieu". The project provided for a small Renaissance-style construction with an octagonal plan that is generically attributed to Donato Bramante or Antonio Sangallo but lacks serious documentation to confirm it. In 1657 Cardinal Paolucci, candidate for the papal church, who wanted to turn it into a family chapel, proposed the restoration to Francesco Borromini and the great architect who, despite his fame, was going through yet another period of crisis in the relationship of rivalry with Bernini, he willingly accepted the small commission that provided him with the opportunity to protect a powerful prelate. Borromini was especially committed to rebuilding the upper part of the Church by superimposing a drum with a large stucco band on top of the dome decorated with festoons of roses and palm trees and crosses and putting a conical cover with a frieze ending in a globe of roses (coat of arms (always closed and even I have never been able to see it) was decorated with a cycle of frescoes made by Lazarus Baldi that tell "the stories of the saint". Of course he could not miss in Rome, a city of beauty and enigmas, where fantasy, religion and popular beliefs always mystifize reality, an esoteric legend that claims that John would receive from Jesus a secret teaching that then he should have transmit to an invisible Church. Therefore, according to esoteric tradition, next to and in parallel to peter's Church, there would be the invisible Church of John who would pass on his mysterious teachings from generation to generation up to the Templars. It is no coincidence that St. John is the patron saint of secret societies and a point of reference for Freemasonry. As I looked at the lonely Church even though it was sandwiched between a context of evocative environmental beauty, I thought it's hard to escape a feeling of melancholy enchantment. Also because there is no sensitivity that protects you from neglect and vandalism
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  • Few know him, perhaps even to its a diagonal position, but the chapel of San Giovanni in Oleo is a small masterpiece of architecture. Having found closed, we succumbed to the temptation to peek from cracks that filter the light inside. This place of prayer is dedicated to Saint John the Evangelist, the beloved of Jesus, the only one of the Apostles who did not die undergoing martyrdom, but from Centennial, to natural death. Legend has it that he was plunged into a cauldron filled with boiling oil, from which he emerged unscathed and incredibly dry, without so much as a sunburn. Despite the merciless persecution carried out against Christians, the emperor Domitian, in terror and intimidated for the incident, the pardon could be sentenced to exile. Hence the name of San Giovanni in Oleo, i.e. in the oil, with reference to the torture. For the record, was restored by Francesco Borromini ... certainly not a nobody.
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  • Visited with a guided tour, is one of those monuments that very few know its hidden location close to the historic centre both for the normal closure to the public. Is dedicated to the beloved disciple of Jesus, the one of the Apostles to be saved from martyrdom and died a natural death. Beautiful and well preserved are the frescoes in the 17th century with scenes from his life. The cusp with the cross is a cast, the original of the Borromini is located in the porch of the Church of s. Giovanni a Porta Latina, just a short distance away. Is open to the public on special days or asking for the keys to the caretaker of the Church of s. Giovanni a Porta Latina. Pity that this baby was not spared from the vandalism of writers.
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Google
  • Pretty church
  • The small church of St. John in Oleo, is located in the 19th ward (Celio), in Via Latina, near the evocative Travertine Gate of the Aurelian walls, with the two circular brick towers on the sides. The church is octagonal in shape and is from the sixteenth century and is present in Renaissance style, at the eight corners has simple lesene with capitals, which support a particular dome with a cylindrical drum with floral ornaments and then a conical dome with at the apex a composition with pot-like palm leaves that contain large lilies topped with an iron cross. On the framed portal, present on the side of Porta Latina, there is both a plaque and a large papal coat of arms in honor of Pope Alexander VII Chigi (in whose pontificate a restoration was carried out). Unfortunately being closed I was not able to visit the interior. Note: Tradition indicates that this was the place, where it was tried to martyr St. John, immersing him in boiling oil, from which he miraculously saved himself and was then sent into exile (dying there at almost 100 years old). In fact, for this event there is the dedication of the church "St. John in Oleo" which means St. John in oil. NOTE STEMMA OF CHIGI: A mountain of 6 golden peaks, accompanied by an eight-ray star.
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  • Dedicated to St. John who according to tradition survived martyrdom by immersion in a tub of boiling oil. Francesco Borromini renovated the small octagonal building at the behest of Cardinal Francesco Paolucci. He created a high frieze, a conical roof with a nuisance at the top, the latter is preserved in the porch of the church of St. John in Oleo which is 20 meters away from the small building.
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  • This small chapel, which unfortunately can not be visited was erected there where tradition has it that St. John was boiled inside a cauldron of boiling oil. Because the Saint was unhurt, you cry to magic and was exiled. The curious thing is that through the porta Latina I don't think you expect to stumble across such a singular. If you go this way, recommend staying a few minutes to read the history of this place.
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  • Only seen outdoors. Located in a particular spot behind the porta Latina. While you're at it, take a look at it.
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