"The seven Basilicas - Pilgrim Churches of Rome" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Tuesday 10th January 2012
During the years of imperial persecutions, the one of Diocleziano in particular was terrifying, the Christian worshippers were obliged to meet secretly in humble buildings very similar, at least from outside, to private homes. With the victory of Costantino over Massenzio in 312 the situation radically changed.
The imperial architects committed to build new worship places right to hold, finally with the daylight, the communities of worshippers, turned to the great ancient heritage and chose a kind of construction by the Romans called "basilica" as their model: a building we nowadays would define multi-functional, a sort of gallery meant for the administration of justice and economy running. Maybe it was just for the fact that these buildings had nothing to do with the "pagan" religion that led them chose this style: they actually didn’t want in any way to have nothing to deal, even from an aesthetical point of view, with old divinities.
The external aspect of the Costantinian basilicas was quite austere, while inside, from the first years, there was a tendency towards a big profusion of rich decorations, often mosaics, and precious furnishing. The way the Roman basilicas look today is of course the result of 1600 years of interventions, new uses, super-impositions: baroque 17th century furnishing are mostly predominant, but on a second look in many of them it is still possible to notice the layout of the first glorious centuries of Christianity: ancient stones the pilgrims still long to touch as at the time of S.Filippo Neri, the very popular "Pippo Buono" who was promoter of the famous tour of the Seven Churches.