Hidden within Rome’s bustling Trastevere district lies the Church of San Benedetto in Piscinula, home to the city’s oldest and smallest bell.
With a history dating back nearly a millennium, this bell has seen the passage of time in a unique way!
As Father Inacio Almeida, Rector of the church, explains, “Generals during periods of wars used the bells to make cannons and the metal to make war artifacts. Since this one was so small, they didn’t use it and left it here.”
For nearly 1000 years, this nearly 18inch bell has marked the passage of time with its chime.
But the bell is not the only artifact of historical significance within the church. As Father Almeida explains, the church served as a school in the 19th century, where children played a game similar to ‘tic-tac-toe’ at the entrance.
The floor of the church is adorned with colorful geometric patterns known as ‘cosmatesque,’ an intricate design featured in several of Rome’s most important churches. Remarkably, this church’s cosmatesque floor has never been restored and is still in its original condition.
Father Almeida notes, “As you can see on the floor, there are also several tombs. At least three thousand people are buried in this Church.”
Though small, the Church of San Benedetto in Piscinula holds a unique place in Rome’s history and continues to enchant visitors with its antiquity.
While its legendary foundation on the homes of the Anicii family may be shrouded in myth, the church’s connection to the Benedictine monk St. Benedict of Norcia only adds to its intrigue.
Hear the bell ring below:
Photo credit: Nicholas Hartmann via Wikimedia Commons