Church of Santi Michele e Magno

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The Church of Saints Michael and Magnus (Template:Lang-it, Template:Lang-nl) is a Roman Catholic church in Rome, Italy, dedicated to Saint Michael the Archangel and the Bishop Saint Magnus of Anagni. It lies in Rione Borgo, and is the national church dedicated to The Netherlands. It is also known as the "Church of the Frisians" (Template:Lang-nl). Since 1989 the church was granted to the Dutch community in Rome.


The Frisians were converted to Christianity in the 8th century by Saint Willibrord, known as the "Apostle to the Frisians" in the modern Netherlands. The Northumbrian missionary crossed with eleven companions the North Sea to bring the Gospel. From that time Frisian pilgrims visited Rome regularly. The old name for the people from the Low Countries that came to Rome remained.

Since the 8th century, a Frisian colony lived in Rome. The Schola of the Frisians is first mentioned during the return to Rome of Pope Leo III in 799, by the greetings of Charles the Great in 800 and Louis II of Italy in 844. In 845 the Frisians defended with the inhabitants of the other scholae St. Peter's basilica and its neighborhood against the invasion of the Saracens. The schola was nonetheless plundered. Shortly after, the neighborhood was surrounded by a wall, of which still remains can be seen. Any pilgrim from the Frisian territory who came to Rome would stay in the Frisian hospice, the closest to the St Peter's.

No remains are left from the old church that belonged to the small settlement. All we know is that it existed and that it had a patron: St Michael the Archangel that liberated Rome from the plague. Later a second saint patron was added to the church: Saint Magnus of Anagni, whose remains ended up in the church five hundred years after his death. Enthusiastic Frisians tried to bring the relics back to Frisia, but that initiative was stopped by Pope Leo IV and since then the relics remained in Rome. Pope Eugene IV deprived in 1446 the perpetual right of the Frisians to the church Santi Michele e Magno in Rome.


In 1141 the new and bigger church was built. It was a Romanesque building, with old columns, and a beautiful bell tower. This bell tower is still admirable, but the church looks very different than when it was built. In the eighteenth and nineteenth century, the interior was transformed to the extent that only small Romanesque details remain visible.

The church is built against the slope of the Gianicolo hill. Thanks to its location it was preserved in the 16th century when all the buildings at the bottom of the hill were demolished for the construction of St. Peter's basilica. The Church of the Frisians is the only existing building that reminds us directly from the scholae, build around the tomb of St. Peter.

There are two fragments of a tombstone of a Frisian knight called Hebus that died in 1004 in Rome at a nonagenarian age.

Scala Sancta

The church's Scala Sancta is to be found in lateral chapel renovated in 2000.


  • Tomb of Anton Raphael Mengs designed by Vincenzo Pacetti.




See also

  • Frisia
  • Willibrord

External links

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