Sant'Antonio Abate del Casale della Bottaccia is a derelict 17th century rural hospice chapel at Via Castel di Guido km 18,5 in the suburban zone of Castel di Guido.
The dedication is to St Anthony of Egypt.
The locality is claimed as the site of a lost 4th century (?) shrine of a martyr called St Basilides.
The spot is at the twelfth milestone of the ancient Via Aurelia, which the modern Via Castel di Guido occupies here (roughly). For centuries it has been entirely rural, but in ancient times it was occupied by the town of Lorium. The place had a pedigree rivalling Rome, since it was an Etruscan foundation.
San Basilide Edit
The revised Roman martyrology has the following entry for 12 June:
"Lorium, at the twelfth milestone from Rome on the Via Aurelia, St Basilides, martyr. Date uncertain".
So we have a martyr probably interred in the little city's burial ground, and provided with a basilical church at some unknown date. The tomb might have been in a catacomb, but if no neither this nor any trace of the church has been found.
The later fictional legend describes him as a soldier martyred with twenty companions in the year 275, two of the companions being named as Tripos and Mandal. It is uncertain as to whether these two were literary inventions, or were two other martyrs venerated in the catacomb. The historical uncertainty led them to be deleted from the Roman martyrology in the 2001 revision.
There are other martyrs named Basilides in the records, but their identities are so confused that the same revision of the Martyrology kept only one at Alexandria in Egypt and another on Crete.
The distance of twelve miles from the city was at the extreme of what a pilgrim could hope to travel in one day. However, the shrine was on the pilgrimage circuit in the early Middle Ages because it features in the so-called Itinerarium Malmesburiense of the late 7th century. There must have been a monastery here to cater for pilgrim guests staying overnight.
Oddly, the Liber pontificalis entry for Leo III (795-816) mentions that he restored a basilica dedicated to St Basilides on the Via Labicana (the present Via Casalina). It is usually taken that this was the same saint as the one buried on the Via Aurelia, but this is by no means certain. The location and history of this basilica are both completely unknown.
The shrine at Lorium was abandoned probably in the 9th century. According to a web-page on the saint on the Porto Santa Rufina diocesan website, the relics of SS Basilides, Tripos and Mandal are under the altar of SS Peter and Paul in Santa Maria in Traspontina.
Mediaeval farmstead Edit
The present farmstead is mediaeval in origin. It first occurs in the records in the 14th century, when it belonged to the church of Santa Maria in Aquiro. It passed to the monastery of San Gregorio Magno al Celio and then to the Ospedale di Santo Spirito before ending up with the Doria Pamphilj family in the 17th century. Camillo Pamphilj purchased the estate in 1641.
Rural hospice Edit
The family remodelled the farmstead to include a rural health centre for the rural population, the first such in the Roman Campagna. Apparently the idea was that relatively minor illnesses could be treated here, while serious cases would be taken by dedicated transport to the Ospedale Santo Spirito in the city. Part of the project involved the building of a little chapel as an annexe to the main block of the farmstead.
There was an extension of the health facilities in the early 18th century to include an inpatient department.
The premises morphed into a rural hostelry as travel on the old roads became more common -throughout most of the 18th century, a morbid fear of malaria discouraged native Romans from passing through their Campagna unless forced by circumstances to do so.
The property was sold on in the mid 20th century, and is apparently now with a company called INPS.
The premises apparently have been neglected for a long time, and left actually derelict for about half a century. At some stage towards the end of the 20th century, the rotten roof timbers threatened a collapse of the roof and so the old tiles were scavenged. The premises were left completely abandoned until recently, when public concern prompted the owners to erect a security fence. Promises of restoration remain vague.
As mentioned, there is nothing to see here concerning the palaeochristian shrine.
The farmstead contains mediaeval fabric, but what is visible was remodelled in the 17th century. This is a substantial group of conjoined buildings, consisting basicall of three three-storey wings arranged around a narrow internal courtyard. The chapel is attached to the right hand end of the wing fronting the road.
Old photographs show a simple rectangular edifice in brick. The right hand side wall had two large rectangular windows. The façade had a triangular pediment, supported by a pair of Doric pilasters at the corners. A pair of square windows with stone frames flanked the entrance, low down. The entrance portal was a surprisingly large stone-framed rectangle, containing the actual door set in a panelled wooden surround including a large wooden transom. Above the portal was a square recessed panel with a less recessed frame.
The Google Earth image (2017) seems to indicate that the chapel roof has collapsed entirely. The façade is obscured by the security fence and rampant ivy.