The Church of Domine Quo Vadis stands at the crossroads between the Appian Way and the Via Ardeatina, about 800 meters from Porta San Sebastiano and, according to tradition, was built in the place where Jesus appeared to the apostle Peter who was leaving Rome for escape martyrdom. To Peter's question "Domine, quo vadis?" ("Lord, where are you going?") Jesus would have replied "Venio Romam iterum crucifigi" ("I am coming to Rome to be crucified again"). At which the repentant apostle would return to Rome by being crucified.
The building is the seventeenth-century reconstruction of a small chapel erected in the ninth century: the facade is due to Cardinal Francesco Barberini who, in 1637, had it rebuilt, and is marked by two lateral pilasters; on the top a tympanum is the Barberini coat of arms. A reduced tympanum is placed above the entrance door, in turn surmounted by a large window.
The interior has a single nave; on the altar there is the image of the Madonna of the transit, while on the sides there are two frescoes with the Crucifixion of Jesus and the Crucifixion of Peter. Above the altar, in a lunette, there is a fresco with the meeting of Jesus with Peter and on the side walls, two other frescoes with the same subjects. In the only side chapel we can admire a fresco with San Francesco and the landscape of Rome with its churches. Of note is a bronze bust of Henryk Sienkiewicz, the Polish writer, author of the famous historical novel Quo vadis?
The church is also called in palmis because a copy of a votive stone with the two footprints, believed to be Christ's, is kept inside. In reality, it is a pagan ex voto for the god Redicolo, offered by a traveler before leaving to guarantee the success of a trip (or on his return, in thanksgiving). An example of a similar ex voto can be seen in the Capitoline Museums.
Photo credits: courtesy of Church of Domine Quo Vadis official site
For the timetable of the masses and visiting conditions, please consult the contacts.
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