San Bartolomeo all'Isola

Basilica of St. Bartholomew on the Island
Basilica di San Bartolomeo all'Isola
Basilica S. Bartholomaei in Insula

Façade of San Bartolomeo all'Isola on the Tiber Island
Basic information
Location Italy Rome, Italy
Geographic coordinates 41°53′25″N 12°28′42″E / 41.89028°N 12.47833°E / 41.89028; 12.47833Coordinates: 41°53′25″N 12°28′42″E / 41.89028°N 12.47833°E / 41.89028; 12.47833
Affiliation Roman Catholic
Rite Oriental rite
Year consecrated 10th Century
Ecclesiastical or organizational status Minor basilica, Rectory church
Leadership Cardinal Blase Joseph Cupich[1]
Architectural description
Architectural type Church
Direction of façade Northwest
Length 45 metres (148 ft)
Width 22 metres (72 ft)
Width (nave) 12 metres (39 ft)

The Basilica of St. Bartholomew on the Island (Italian: Basilica di San Bartolomeo all'Isola , Latin: Basilica S. Bartholomaei in Insula) is a titular minor basilica, located in Rome, Italy. It was founded at the end of the 10th century by Otto III, Holy Roman Emperor. It contains the relics of St. Bartholomew the Apostle,[2] and is located on Tiber Island, on the site of the former temple of Aesculapius, which had cleansed the island of its former ill-repute among the Romans and established its reputation as a hospital, continued under Christian auspices today.

Its Cardinal priest has been Cardinal Blase Cupich since 19 November 2016.

Basilica di San Bartolomeo all'Isola, with the Torre dei Caetani behind


In Roman times, the Temple of Aesculapius stood on the site of the modern church. The entire Isola Tiberina had actually been covered in marble in an effort to make the island look like a ship. The prow can still be seen today.[3]

Emperor Otto built this church, which was initially dedicated to his friend Adalbert of Prague. It was renovated by Pope Paschal II in 1113 and again in 1180, after its rededication upon the arrival of the relics of the apostle Bartholomew. The relics were sent to Rome from Benevento, where they had arrived from Armenia in 809. The relics are located within an ancient Roman porphyry bathtub with lions' heads, under the main altar. The marble wellhead bears the figures of the Savior, Adalbert and Bartholomew and Otto III.

The church was badly damaged by a flood in 1557 and was reconstructed, with its present Baroque façade, in 1624, to designs of Orazio Torriani. Further restorations were undertaken in 1852. The interior of the church preserves fourteen ancient Roman columns and two lion supports that date from the earliest reconstruction of the basilica.

The inscriptions found in S. Bartolomeo, a valuable source illustrating the history of the Basilica, have been collected and published by Vincenzo Forcella.[4]

In 2000, San Bartolomeo was dedicated by Pope John Paul II to the memory of the new martyrs of the 20th and 21st century.


In the center of the piazzetta before the church is a four-sided guglia with saints in niches by the sculptor Ignazio Jacometti, erected here in 1869.

The 12th-century tower near the church, the Torre dei Caetani, is all that remains of the medieval castello erected on the island by the Pierleoni.


San Bartolomeo houses the memorial to new martyrs of the 20th and 21st century, which was dedicated by Pope John Paul II in 2000. This memorial is taken care of by the Community of Sant'Egidio, who also painted the icon on the main altar. One of the relics that are kept as part of the memorial is the piece of rock that was used in 1984 to kill Blessed Jerzy Popiełuszko.[5]

List of Cardinal priests

San Bartolomeo all'Isola was established as a titulus (Titulus S. Bartholomaei in Insula) of a Cardinal Priest by Pope Leo X on 6 July 1517.[6] The current holder of the title is Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago.


  1. "Titular churches and diaconates of the new cardinals, 19.11.2016" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. 19 November 2016. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
  2. S. Prete, "Reliquie e culto di S. Bartolomeo ap. dal Medio Oriente a Roma all'Isola Tiberina", Studi e Ricerche sull'Oriente Cristiano, Rome 5.3 (1982:173-181)
  3. "Isola Tiberina Is Adorably Tiny, Old & Roman". The Huffington Post. Huffington Post. 31 January 2014. Retrieved 17 February 2014.
  4. V. Forcella, Inscrizioni delle chese e d' altre edifici di Roma, dal secolo XI fino al secolo XVI Volume IV (Roma: Fratelli Bencini, 1874), pp. 527-540.
  5. "Father Popieluszko in Rome pantheon of modern martyrs". Retrieved 6 September 2012.
  6. David M. Cheney, Catholic-Hierarchy: San Bartolomeo all'Isola. Retrieved: 03/09/2016.

Further reading

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