Church of Sant’Agata dei Goti

The sources tell of a church dedicated to St Agatha among Rome’s oldest diaconiae, already in the fourth century. After the capture of Rome by Alaric’s Goths in AD 410, they consecrated the church to the Arian cult; a few years later Flavius Ricimer, consul of the Western Roman Empire in AD 459 and also of the Arian faith, had it adorned with magnificent mosaics, unfortunately lost in 1589 and now known only from a colour drawing in the Vatican Library. In 593 the church was reconsecrated to Catholicism by Pope Gregory the Great, and was renamed, as we read in the sources, with the name of Sant’Agata de Caballo because it stood on top of the descent towards the Suburra from the “Monte Cavallo”, as the Quirinal hill was known. Inside the church, there is still a magnificent Cosmatesque canopy by the famous Roman artistic school started by the Cosmati family. Between the eleventh and twelfth centuries, they worked in Rome adorning floors, columns and canopies with fine decorations in polychrome mosaic, thus renewing the ancient tradition of opus sectile.

During the Middle Ages, the church fell into disrepair until the major restoration work of 1633, when the apse, previously decorated with Ricimer’s precious mosaics and now collapsed, was rebuilt and decorated with a fresco by Paolo Gismondi. The final work, to renovate the façade, dates to 1729.