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Baroque ceiling.


The Basilica dei Santi Apostoli is a 6th century basilica in Romemarker, central Italymarker, dedicated originally to St. James and St. Philip and later to all Apostles. Today, the basilica is under the care of the Conventual Franciscan Order, whose headquarters in Rome is in the adjacent building.

Built by Pope Pelagius I to celebrate a Narses victory over the Ostrogoths, and dedicated by Pope John III to St John and St Philip Apostles, the basilica is listed as Titulus SS Apostolorum in the acts of the synod of 499. Santi Apostoli was ruined by the earthquake of 1348marker, and left abandoned.

In 1417, Pope Martin V, whose Colonna family owned the adjacent Palazzo Colonnamarker, restored the church, while the facade was built at the end of the same century by Baccio Pontelli. It was frescoed by Melozzo da Forli whose wall-paintings at Santi Apostoli were renowned for their innovative techniques of foreshortening and came to be regarded as Melozzo's masterpiece.

For a short time, the basilica housed the tomb of Michelangelo, before its transportation to Santa Crocemarker. Also enshrined there is the heart of Maria Klementyna Sobieska, wife of the Old Pretender, James Francis Edward Stuart. Upon the death of James III, his body was laid in state in 1776 before he was buried with his wife at St. Peter's.

Pope Clement XI instigated dramatic renovation of the church. Melozzo's frescoes were either destroyed or removed to Vatican. New Baroque interior was designed by Carlo and Francesco Fontana, and was completed in 1714. The fresco in the vault of the central nave is by Baciccia, painted in 1707. It depicts the Triumph of the Order of St Francis. There are also frescoes of the Evangelists by Luigi Fontana. Above the sanctuary is a fresco from 1709 by Giovanni Odazzi, the Rebel Angels. The church was later restored again, with the facade completed by Giuseppe Valadier in 1827.

The Cardinal Priest of the Titulus XII Apostolorum is Angelo Scola. Among the previous Cardinal Priests are Pope Clement XIV, whose tomb by Canova is in the basilica, and Henry Benedict Stuart.

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