Santi Vito, Modesto e Crescenzia

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Santi Vito, Modesto e Crescenzia (Saints Vito, Modesto and Crescenzia) is the name of a Catholic church in Rome, officially named Santi Vito e Modesto. It is located in the Rione Esquilino, adjacent to the Servian Wall. It is near the Oratory of Santa Maria Immacolata della Concezione. Its facade is on Via Carlo Alberto, with the entrance on the Via San Vito.


The church was first recorded in the Liber Pontificalis for the reign of Pope Leo III (795-816). The original name was San Vito in Macello Martyrum or "in the marketplace of the martyrs". A macellum was an ancient Roman indoor market, and the ancient Macellum Liviae may have been the one referred to. It is adjacent to the ancient Servian Wall, and the Arch of Gallienus, which was a major passageway within the city. <ref name=SVM>Template:Cite web</ref>

The original dedication was to St. Vitus, a 4th-century martyr in Sicily. He became very popular during the Middle Ages as the patron saint of those suffering from epilepsy, and was venerated as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. In England and other countries his name was mutated into "Guy" (as in Guy Fawkes), which in Italian became Guido.<ref name=SVM />

The church was described as a diaconia, a center for the Church's charitable activities and received donations from Pope Leo. This implies that it was founded when there was still a local residential population to be served from the time of its founding, likely in the 6th century, as the Esquiline began to lose its population about that time. Possibly in line with its ancient orientation, it became a titular church for a Cardinal Deacon in 1088. The first cardinal to receive this title was Leo of Ostia, a Benedictine monk.<ref name=SVM />

In that same period an unhistorical legend describing the martyrdom of St. Vitus became popular. This legend associated him with two other martyrs called Modestus and Crescentia who were identified as a married couple, his childhood tutor and nursemaid. As a result, the church was renamed San Vitale e Modesto in Macello Martyrum, which was also the name of the cardinalate. Later in the Middle Ages the cardinalate was renamed Santi Vitale, Modesto e Crescentia, but the church came to be called simply Santi Vito e Modesto, as the Macello Martyrum was forgotten.<ref name=SVM />

By the 15th century the church had fallen into ruins. It was rebuilt by 1474 by Pope Sixtus IV in a different location, presumed to be near the original site. At that time it was entrusted to the Cistercian monks. They established a small monastery adjacent to the church, which served as the residence of the Procurator General of the Order.<ref name=SVM />

According to Mas Latrie, this deaconry became a title from 1477 until 1480, when it was returned to its older rank as a Cardinal-Deaconry. and again in 1565 when Pope Pius IV (1559-1565) created 23 new cardinals. It underwent a series of reconstructions in the following centuries. Pope Sixtus V listed it among the deaconries in his apostolic constitution Religiosa.

The interior has frescoes of the Madonna, child, and Saints attribuito ad Antoniazzo Romano. It also has 19th-century frescoes depicting the Madonna offering the Rosary to Saints Dominic and Catherine of Siena.

The current Cardinal Deacon is Giuseppe Bertello, appointed in 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI.

Cardinal Deacons since 1754

  • Luigi Maria Torregiani (1754 - 1765)
  • Andrea Negroni (1765 - 1779)
  • Giovanni Serafini (1843 - 1846)
  • Vincenzo Santucci (1853 - 1854)
  • Gaspare Grasselini (1856 - 1867)
  • Edoardo Borromeo (1868-1878)
  • Carlo Cristofori (1885-1891)
  • Francesco di Paola Cassetta, in commendam (1901-1919)
  • Eugène Tisserant (1936-1937); pro illa vice title (1937-1939)
  • José Bueno y Monreal, pro illa vice title (1958-1987)
  • Umberto Betti, O.F.M. (2007-2009)
  • Giuseppe Bertello (2012- )