San Salvatore delle Milizie was a small mediaeval parish church, closed in the 16th century but of which remains survive. It was at Salita del Grillo 17-21, which is in the rione Monti.

The dedication was to Jesus Christ the Saviour.


This was one of the many small parish churches erected in a massive but badly documented campaign of church building in the city during the late 10th and 11th churches. It has its first documentary reference in the Catalogus Cencii Camerarii in 1192, and is listed in subsequent mediaeval catalogues.

It survived to be depicted in the maps of the city produced by Bufalini in 1551, and it also appears on that by Tempestini of 1593. The latter evidence is, however, anachronistic because the church was closed in 1577. A bull of Pope Gregory XIII survives which detail the circumstances; the fabric of the edifice was ruinous, and the last priest in charge agreed to the parish being united with that of Santi Quirico e Giulitta nearby.

According to a source quoted by Martinelli in the 17th century, the deconsecrated church initially became the property of the nuns at Santi Domenico e Sisto. However, before the century was out, they sold the property to a Venetian called Achille Venier. He demolished most of the church apart from, apparently, the campanile and part of the façade displaying a fresco of Christ, and built a private house for himself -the Casa Venier. This was rebuilt in the 18th century, resulting in the destruction of the surviving remnants above ground.

However, traces of the church survived in the basements of the replacement buildings and were excavated in 1886. Unfortunately, the frescoes that were uncovered were not conserved very well.

In 1990, the basement of number 21 became the Polmone Pulsante, the studio of the noted artist and sculptor Saverio Ungheri who was still active in 2016 despite being born in 1926.

The studio has been open in recent times from 16:00 to 20:00 on weekdays, and it was possible to ask for the fresco fragments to be pointed out. However, the artist is now a very old man and so the future of his studio must be in some doubt.


The Bufalini depiction shows a little church on a basilical plan, having a nave of four bays with aisles and arcades.

The 1886 excavation revealed that the church was built re-using ancient foundations which are not easily interpreted because of the restricted area excavated. Also, some squared ashlar blocks were re-used which the excavator thought might have been looted from the nearby Severan Wall.

The surviving fresco fragments comprised five separate areas of plaster, making up one scene on a wall over an arch. These together show two standing figures, unfortunately with the heads missing, one of which is dressed in what is probably a dalmatic or the liturgical garb of a deacon. Underneath the figures is a red band with a decayed epigraph in white, transcribed as:

..ot ..ptuoam..ego be..pinge..

Hülsen interpreted this as: Pro tuo amore, ego Beno de Rapiza pingere feci. This would date the fresco work to the 11th century, and to the work of one Benno de Rapiza who executed frescoes at San Clemente and also at Santi Sette Dormienti. However, you can judge for yourself how thin the evidence is on which to base such an inference.

External linksEdit

Annas Rom Guide web-page (in Danish)

Saverio Ungheri website

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