Station Church Day 22: Nereus and Achilleus were almost certainly two soldiers, martyred under Diocletian.
Aleteia invites you to a virtual Lenten pilgrimage through Rome’s 42 station churches: one church per day, from February 17 to April 11.
The small Basilica of Sts. Nereus and Achilleus is a popular location for weddings, surrounded by the greenery and ancient monuments of the Baths of Caracalla.
The dedication to Nereus and Achilleus goes back to the 6th century, but the church dates back at least two centuries earlier and is linked to the legend that St. Peter, fleeing from Rome, lost here one of the bandages (“fasciola” in Latin) that bound his wounds. Still today, above the entrance you can read the dedication “titulus fasciolae.”
Today’s church was rebuilt by Leo III (9th century), who also had the relics of Nereus and Achilleus brought here.
The last major renovation dates back to the Jubilee of 1600, commissioned by Cardinal Cesare Baronio, of the Congregation of the Oratorians of St. Philip Neri. To him we owe the frescoes in the apse and the nave. The former illustrate the life and martyrdom of Nereus, Achilleus, and Domitilla—for a certain time it was thought that they were in her service. In the nave there are martyrdom scenes inspired by the Roman Martyrology.
Nereus and Achilleus were almost certainly two soldiers, martyred under Diocletian and initially buried in the Catacomb of Domitilla, where it is still possible to admire a semi-hypogean (partially underground) 4th-century basilica dedicated to them.
Today’s station replaces—as it has for several years—the one in the church of “San Sisto Vecchio,” on the opposite side of the street, which for the moment is not practicable.
Give heed to the statutes and ordinancesthat I am teaching you to observe, so that you may live (…).Deut 4:1
* In collaboration with the Social Communications Office of the Vicariate of Rome.