Basilica of San Sisto Vecchio

Woodcut of San Sisto Vecchio in the 16th century, from Le cose maravigliose dell'alma città di Roma (Venice: Girolamo Francino, 1588)

The Basilica of San Sisto Vecchio (in Via Appia) is one of e over sixty minor basilicas among the churches of Rome, and a titular church since 600 AD. As such, it is connected to the title of a Cardinal priest, the current holder of which is Marian Jaworski of Ukraine.


The Basilica was constructed in the fourth century and is recorded as the Titulus Crescentianae, thus relating the church to a certain Crescentia, (possibly a Roman woman who founded the church.) According to tradition, the church was established by Pope Anastasius I (399–401).

The church is dedicated to St. Pope Sixtus II and houses his relics, (transferred here from the Catacomb of Callixtus in the sixth century.)

San Sisto was rebuilt in the early 13th century by Pope Innocent III. The current church is the result of the restorations of Pope Benedict XIII in the 18th century, which left only the bell tower and the apse from the medieval church.

A 13th-century fresco cycle depicting scenes from the New Testament and the Apocrypha has been preserved.

Pope Honorius III entrusted the reform of the monastery at San Sisto Vecchio to Saint Dominic in the 1220s, intending it as part of the reformation of women's religious life in Rome. In 1219 Honorius then invited Dominic and his companions to take up permanent residence at the ancient Roman basilica of Santa Sabina, which they did in the early 1220, after that they founded a convent and studium on June 5, 1222. Thus forming the original studium of the Dominican Order in Rome, out of which the 16th-century College of Saint Thomas at Santa Maria sopra Minerva and the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) would grow.[1]

Dominican nuns still occupy the monastery at San Sisto Vecchio.[2]

Cardinal protectors

The following persons are known to have been Cardinal priests of S. Sisto (italics are used to denote special cases):[3][4][5][6]


  1. Pierre Mandonnet, O.P., St. Dominic and His Work, Translated by Sister Mary Benedicta Larkin, O.P., B. Herder Book Co., St. Louis/London, 1948, Chapt. III, note 50: "If the installation at Santa Sabina does not date from 1220, at least it is from 1221. The official grant was made only in June, 1222 (Bullarium O.P., I, 15). But the terms of the papal bull show that there had been a concession earlier. Before that concession the Pope said that the friars had no hospitium in Rome. At that time St. Sixtus was no longer theirs; Conrad of Metz could not have alluded to St. Sixtus, therefore, when he said in 1221: "the Pope has conferred on them a house in Rome" (Laurent no. 136). It is possible that the Pope was waiting for the completion of the building that he was having done at Santa Sabina, before giving the title to the property, on June 5, 1222, to the new Master of the Order, elected not many days before." Accessed 2012-5-20.
  2. "Stazione a San Sisto "Vecchio"". Stazioni Quaresimali. Pontificia Accademia Cultorum Martyrum. Archived from the original on March 6, 2016. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
  3. Rudolf Hüls, Kardinäle, Klerus und Kirchen Roms, 1049-1130 (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer 1977), pp. 205-206.
  4. Barbara Zenker, Die Mitglieder des Kardinalkollegiums, von 1130 bis 1159 (Wurzburg 1964), p. 102.
  5. Conradus Eubel, Hierarchia catholica medii aevi I, editio altera (Monasterii 1913), p. 47. (1350-1436)
  6. David M. Cheyney, Catholic-Hierarchy: San Sisto. Retrieved: 2016-03-16. (1368 - present)

Sources and External links

Coordinates: 41°52′49″N 12°29′46″E / 41.8804°N 12.496°E / 41.8804; 12.496

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