Saint Alexius’s pilgrim Christ is back after nine centuries

This is a story that is both surprising and heart-warming. Surprising because the condition in which a large 12th-century fresco was found a few weeks ago, in a hollow space of the Basilica of Saint Alexius on the Aventine, was amazing: the colors, including those of the fine polychrome frame around the painting, have survived nine hundred years of history almost unscathed – better preserved and more brilliant than any other wall painting in Rome from the same period.

And heart-warming because obviously whoever decided to wall up this work – which originally was showcased on the building’s counterfaçade – did it with great care, moved by a special dedication to the figures represented in the painting: likely Saint Alexius and Christ the pilgrim, in an extremely rare iconography.

The fresco – the section found is 90 centimeters wide by over 4 meters tall, but there is another section at least as big still hidden by the wall – was discovered by art historian Claudia Viggiani, and secured by restorer Susanna Sarmati.

Enjoy the beautiful images of this work of art with an extraordinary story.

Basilica of Saints Boniface and Alexius
Piazza di Sant’Alessio, 23
Tel.: +39 06 5743446

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July 5, 2019