Basilica of San Saturnino

basilica san saturnino cagliari
The Faithful in Front of the Basilica of San Saturnino in Cagliari

When you think of ancient sites in Italy you think all sorts of things, Roman sites, Etruscan sites, neolithic burial grounds and so on. But then are also churches.

Cagliari’s Basilica of San Saturnino sits within a walled area which includes a Paleo-Christian necropolis. I like the word “Paleo” because it means “very old” except in the paleo diet because that’s new and it seems to have nothing whatsoever to do with ancient food as eaten by ancient people.

In any case, the basilica is named after St. Saturninus of Cagliari, who was said to have been beheaded in 303 after refusing to offer sacrifices to Jupiter during the persecutions of Christians by Diocletian. Paleo indeed. His saint’s day is October 30.

Some think the legend began well after the saint’s death. Saturninus was a very common name for martyrs as it turns out.

The first mention of the basilica comes to us around 600. Still pretty paleo. It was restored in 1484 after the Catalan siege in the first part of the 14th century. The the allies bombed it during the war.

The interior of this ancient church after restoration, particularly the dome, is quietly spectacular.

basilica san saturnino cagliari
Dome of the Basilica of San Saturnino

Restoration is evident in some of the walls.

basilica san saturnino cagliari
Interior of San Saturnino showing reconstruction

This is not the easiest church to visit. As you can see from the picture above, it is still used for special church services, so if you are lucky to come at the right time, you can get in, as we did. The tourist office may be of some help.

basilica san saturnino cagliari
Facade of the Basilica

Have fun viewing the church and grounds (if you manage to get in) and then head out to the San Benedetto Fish Market. Really.

Basilica of San Saturnino originally appeared on wanderingsardinia.com Feb 20, 2017, © James Martin

Archaeology, Cagliari

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Categories Archaeology, Cagliari

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