San Giovanni in Oleo

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San Giovanni in Oleo is a small church in Rome, Italy, devoted to Saint John the Evangelist, on the place where, according to tradition, his martyrdom was attempted.

According to an ancient tradition, in 92, St. John survived martyrdom through immersion in a vat of boiling oil, attempted by Domitian himself. The old apostle survived a long while without even being burnt and the crowd demanded that he be spared; Domitian condemned him to exile on the little island of Patmos, where John wrote Revelation. After his exile, he died in Ephesus. This ancient tradition, and the centralized plan of the church, customary for votive oratories on the sites of martyrdoms, support the 5th-century origin of this foundation.

The current church is an octagonal 16th century Renaissance chapel, by the Porta Latina. San Giovanni in Oleo is attributed to Bramante and Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, and was later restored by Borromini, who modified the roof, installing a cross on an orb, decorated with roses and adding a frieze in terracotta with roses and palms. On the door is the coat of arms of the French prelate Benoît Adam, with the motto "Au plaisir de Dieu". The frescos (1716) showing Saint John's attempted martyrdom were painted by Lazzaro Baldi.


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