San Sisto Vecchio
Old Basilica of Saint Sixtus
Basilica di San Sisto Vecchio
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41°52′49″N 12°29′46″E / 41.8804°N 12.496°E / 41.8804; 12.496
LocationPiazzale Numa Pompilio 8, Rome
TraditionRoman Rite
Religious orderDominican Order
Former name(s)Titulus Crescentianae
StatusMinor basilica, titular church
Founded4th century AD
Founder(s)Pope Anastasius I
DedicationPope Sixtus II
Architectural typeRomanesque, Baroque
Completed18th century
The Maria Advocata, c. 6th century, hung in the basilica from 1221 to 1575

The Basilica of San Sisto Vecchio (in Via Appia) is one of the over sixty minor basilicas among the churches of Rome, and a titular church since 600 AD. As such, it is connected to the title of a Cardinal priest, currently Antoine Kambanda.


The basilica was constructed in the fourth century and is recorded as the Titulus Crescentianae, thus relating the church to a certain Crescentia (possibly a Roman woman who founded the church.) According to tradition, the church was established by Pope Anastasius I (399–401).

The church is dedicated to Pope Sixtus II and houses his relics (transferred there from the Catacomb of Callixtus in the sixth century.)

San Sisto was rebuilt in the early 13th century by Pope Innocent III. The current church is the result of the restorations of Pope Benedict XIII in the 18th century, which left only the bell tower and the apse from the medieval church.

A 13th-century fresco cycle depicting scenes from the New Testament and the Apocrypha has been preserved.

Woodcut of San Sisto Vecchio in the 16th century, from Le cose maravigliose dell'alma città di Roma (Venice: Girolamo Francino, 1588)

Pope Honorius III entrusted the reform of the monastery at San Sisto Vecchio to Dominic in the 1220s, intending it as part of the reformation of women's religious life in Rome. In 1219 Honorius then invited Dominic and his companions to take up permanent residence at the ancient Roman basilica of Santa Sabina, which they did in the early 1220. After that they founded a convent and studium on June 5, 1222, thus forming the original studium of the Dominican Order in Rome, out of which the 16th-century College of Saint Thomas at Santa Maria sopra Minerva and the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) would grow.[relevant?][1]

Dominican nuns still occupy the monastery at San Sisto Vecchio.[2]

Cardinal protectors

The following persons are known to have been Cardinal priests of S. Sisto (italics are used to denote special cases):[3][4][5][6]


  1. ^ Pierre Mandonnet, O.P., St. Dominic and His Work, Translated by Sister Mary Benedicta Larkin, O.P., B. Herder Book Co., St. Louis/London, 1948, Chapt. III, note 50: "If the installation at Santa Sabina does not date from 1220, at least it is from 1221. The official grant was made only in June, 1222 (Bullarium O.P., I, 15). But the terms of the papal bull show that there had been a concession earlier. Before that concession, the Pope said, the friars had no hospitium in Rome. At that time St. Sixtus was no longer theirs; Conrad of Metz could not have alluded to St. Sixtus, therefore, when he said in 1221: "the Pope has conferred on them a house in Rome" (Laurent no. 136[full citation needed]). It is possible that the Pope was waiting for the completion of the building that he was having done at Santa Sabina, before giving the title to the property, on June 5, 1222, to the new Master of the Order, elected not many days before." "Work III: Years of Experimental Activity (1215-19)". Archived from the original on 2012-06-18. Retrieved 2013-02-07. Accessed 2012-5-20.
  2. ^ "Stazione a San Sisto "Vecchio"". Stazioni Quaresimali. Pontificia Accademia Cultorum Martyrum. Archived from the original on March 6, 2016. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
  3. ^ Rudolf Hüls, Kardinäle, Klerus und Kirchen Roms, 1049-1130 (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer 1977), pp. 205-206.
  4. ^ Barbara Zenker, Die Mitglieder des Kardinalkollegiums, von 1130 bis 1159 (Wurzburg 1964), p. 102.
  5. ^ Conradus Eubel, Hierarchia catholica medii aevi I, editio altera (Monasterii 1913), p. 47. (1350-1436)
  6. ^ David M. Cheyney, Catholic-Hierarchy: San Sisto. Retrieved: 2016-03-16. (1368 - present)

Media related to San Sisto Vecchio (Rome) at Wikimedia Commons

Preceded by
San Silvestro in Capite
Landmarks of Rome
San Sisto Vecchio
Succeeded by
Santa Sofia a Via Boccea