San Sebastiano fuori le mura
Basilica of Saint Sebastian Outside the Walls
San Sebastiano ad Catacumbas
Basilica di San Sebastiano fuori le mura
San Sebastiano fuori le mura (Rome).jpg
San Sebastiano fuori le mura, façade (1612) by Flaminio Ponzio, assisted by Giovanni Vasanzio[1]
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41°51′20″N 12°30′56″E / 41.8556°N 12.5156°E / 41.8556; 12.5156Coordinates: 41°51′20″N 12°30′56″E / 41.8556°N 12.5156°E / 41.8556; 12.5156
LocationVia Appia Antica 136, Rome
TraditionRoman Rite
Statustitular church, minor basilica
Foundedc. AD 300–350
DedicationSaint Sebastian
Architect(s)Flaminio Ponzio
Giovanni Vasanzio
Completed18th century

San Sebastiano fuori le mura (Saint Sebastian beyond the Walls), or San Sebastiano ad Catacumbas (Saint Sebastian at the Catacombs), is a Minor basilica in Rome, Central Italy. Up to the Great Jubilee of 2000, San Sebastiano was one of the Seven Pilgrim Churches of Rome, and many pilgrims still favor the traditional list (not least perhaps because of the Catacombs, and because the Santuario della Madonna del Divino Amore, which replaced it in the list, is farther from the inner city).


Conjectural model of the original basilica, from the back end
Conjectural model of the original basilica, from the back end

Built originally in the first half of the 4th century,[2] the basilica is dedicated to St. Sebastian, a popular Roman martyr of the 3rd century. The name ad catacumbas refers to the catacombs of St Sebastian, over which the church was built, while "fuori le mura" refers to the fact that the church is built outside the Aurelian Walls, and is used to differentiate the basilica from the church of San Sebastiano al Palatino on the Palatine Hill.

According to the founding tradition,[3] in 258, during the Valerian persecutions, the catacombs were temporarily used as place of sepulture of two other saints martyred in Rome, Peter and Paul,[4] whose remains were later transferred to the two basilicas carrying their names: whence the original dedication of the church, Basilica Apostolorum ("Basilica of the Apostles"). The dedication to Sebastian dates to the 9th century.[5]

Sebastian's remains were moved here around 350. They were transferred to St. Peter's in 826, fearing a Saracen assault: the latter, in fact, materialized, and the church was destroyed.[6] The building was refounded under Pope Nicholas I (858–867), while the martyr's altar was reconsecrated by Honorius III (1216–1227), by request of the Cistercians, who had received the place. In the 13th century the arcade of the triple nave was walled in.

S. Sebastiano is one of the seven basilicas travellers to Rome traditionally visited, especially after 1553 when St. Philip Neri, initiated the Seven Churches Visitation, a special pilgrimage done in one day starting from St. Peter's Basilica and ending at the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore.[7] The street which links Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls with S. Sebastiano is still called "Via delle Sette Chiese".

The current edifice is largely a 17th-century construction, commissioned by Cardinal Scipione Borghese in 1609 from Flaminio Ponzio and, after Ponzio's death in 1613, entrusted to Giovanni Vasanzio, who completed it.


Catacombs of San Sebastiano – entrance detail
Catacombs of San Sebastiano – entrance detail

The statue of St Sebastian at the altar in the first chapel on the left is by Giuseppe Giorgetti. The Chapel of Relics, located directly across the nave, houses a stone allegedly imprinted with the footprints of Jesus related to the episode of "Quo vadis?" in the apocryphal Acts of Peter;[8] and one of the arrows which struck St Sebastian together with part of the column to which he was tied during the martyrdom. Noteworthy is the Albani Chapel (built 1716)[9] and designed by Carlo Maratta, Alessandro Specchi, Filippo Barigioni and Carlo Fontana; commissioned by Pope Clement XI; and dedicated to Pope Fabian. Fabian had been Bishop of Rome during the persecution of Decius. Flanking the altar, busts of Saints Peter and Paul by Nicolò Cordier recall the first dedication of the basilica.


Jesus of Gian Lorenzo Bernini
Jesus of Gian Lorenzo Bernini

On the right side in a niche, the famous Bust of the Saviour (Salvator Mundi), the last masterpiece by Gian Lorenzo Bernini rediscovered in 2001 in the convent adjacent to the church, is shown.[10][11]



  1. ^ The granite columns were reused from the 13th-century reconstruction. (TCI, Roma e dintorni)
  2. ^ According to Touring Club Italiano, Roma e dintorni (1965) p. 395.
  3. ^ "Secondo la tradizione", Touring Club Italiano, Roma e dintorni (1965) p. 395.
  4. ^ "The Basilica of St. Sebastian Outside the Walls",
  5. ^ Touring Club Italiano, Roma e dintorni, eo. loc.
  6. ^ "Guerra santa. Quell'anno in cui i musulmani presero Roma".
  7. ^ Schneible, Ann. "Visiting the Seven Pilgrim Churches of Rome", Zenit, November 12, 2012
  8. ^ Erik Inglis, “Inventing Apostolic Impression Relics in Medieval Rome,” Speculum 96/2 (April, 2021), 309-66.
  9. ^ About 1716 according to TCI Roma e dintorni.
  10. ^ Petrucci 2022.
  11. ^ catacombe 2022.


Media related to San Sebastiano fuori le Mura at Wikimedia Commons

Preceded by
Sacro Cuore di Gesù a Castro Pretorio
Landmarks of Rome
San Sebastiano fuori le mura
Succeeded by
San Silvestro in Capite