|Basilica of Saint Eustace|
Basilica di Sant'Eustachio
|Location||Via di Sant'Eustachio, Rome|
|Status||Minor basilica, titular church|
|Founded||by the 8th century AD|
|Architectural type||Romanesque, Baroque|
Sant'Eustachio [sant.eu.ˈstatʃ.ʃjo] is a Roman Catholic titular church and minor basilica in Rome, named for the martyr Saint Eustace. It is located on Via di Sant'Eustachio in the rione Sant'Eustachio, a block west of the Pantheon and via della Rotonda, and a block east of Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza and the Via della Dogana Vecchia.
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A church at the site was founded by the 8th century. The church was recorded as a diaconia (a centre for helping the poor and the sick) at the end of the pontificate of Pope Gregory II (715-731). It is mentioned in some documents dating from the 10th and 11th centuries, where this church is called in platana (between the plane trees) referring to the tree planted in the garden of the martyr Eustace. However, tradition holds that the emperor Constantine I had previously built an oratory here. This church was called "ad Pantheon in regione nona e iuxta templum Agrippae" (at the Pantheon in the ninth rione and next to the temple of Agrippa").
The church was restored and had a new campanile added at the end of the 12th century during the pontificate of Celestine III (1191–1198), who also deposited the putative relics of Eustace and his family in the church. : Cesare Corvara and Giovanni Battista Contini (1641–1723), who added chapels and the portico, Antonio Canevari (1681–1750), Nicola Salvi (1697–1751) and finally, from 1728, Giovanni Domenico Navone. The new high altar, in bronze and polychrome marble, was added by Nicola Salvi in 1739 and in 1749 Ferdinando Fuga put a baldachin over it. The choir and the sacristy were designed by Canevari and built by Giovanni Moscati.In the 16th century, it was a favored praying-place for St Philip Neri. In the 17th and 18th centuries it was almost completely rebuilt, with only the campanile remaining from the old structure. The new design, in the Roman Baroque style, was produced by several architects
The church was elevated to minor basilica status in 1918.
The facade was built under the direction of Cesare Corvara († 1703) with the collaboration of other architects. It consists of two sections, with the upper section standing back. The lower part is marked with four pilasters and two columns, all with Ionic capitals with in the middle of each capital a small head of a deer. The spirals of the volutes are connected by a small laurel wreath. On the right side of the facade a plaque was placed in memory of the flood of the Tiber River in 1495, whose waters reached up to the basilica.
The top section is divided by four pilasters with on each side a large volute. In the middle is a large window with an arcuated cornice, flanked on each side by a niche adorned with shells. On top is a triangular pediment with in its middle a circular window surrounded with palm branches and surmounted by a crown. On top of the pediment stands a deer head with a cross between the antlers (done by the sculptor Paolo Morelli († 1719), in reference to the legend of Saint Eustace.
An iron gate, made by Gian Battista Contini, closes off the porch.
The square Romanesque campanile is situated on the back of the church at its left side. Construction was started in 1196 under the pontificate of Pope Celestine III. The top part can be dated back to the end of the 12th century, while the base is somewhat older and can be dated at ca. 1090.
The interior has a cruciform architectural plan and consists of a single nave. Its construction was carried out in mature Baroque style under the supervision of the architects Cesare Corvara and Antonio Canevari. The nave is marked on each side by three pilasters resting on a broad base. The pilasters are decked with fluted white marble and surmounted by composite capitals.
The rib vault is stuccoed with flowers and leaves. The crossing is covered with a dome with a representation of the Holy Spirit in its middle.
The main altar was commissioned by Cardinal Neri Corsini and designed by the architect Nicola Salvi. He made it into an elegant and refined synthesis of marble and gilded metal. The top of the altar rests on an urn in porphyry rosso antico, the costly stone of the ancients, that contains the putative relics of Saint Eustace. The altarpiece was painted in 1727 by Francesco Ferdinandi (1679–1740), also named "l'Imperiali". It represents the martyrdom of Saint Eustace and his family who were roasted to death inside a bronze statue of a bull or an ox, in the year AD 118. The gilded wooden baldachin (circa 1746) over the main altar is attributed to Ferdinando Fuga (1699–1781).
The rear of the church is almost completely covered with the organ, made by Johann Conrad Werle in 1767. The gilded balustrade and the wooden front of the organ were executed in Rococo style by Bernardino Mammucari, Francesco Michetti and Carlo Pacilli. Above the organ stands a glass window representing "the Penitent Magdalene", realized in the last decade of the 19th century by Gabriel and Louis Gesta di Tolosa.
The pulpit was executed in polychrome marble and dates from 1937.
The following were Cardinal Deacons of S. Eustachio:
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