Castel Sant'Angelo

The Plague of Justinian was a pandemic that afflicted the Mediterranean basin, in succesive waves, from 6th to 8th Century. It strongly hit Rome at the end of 6th Century.

A memory of that epidemic can be seen on the top of the grand mausoleum of Hadrian, today known as Castel Sant'Angelo, in Rome. According to William Osler "visitors at Rome see the figure of a gilded angel with a drawn sword, from which the present name of the Castle of St. Angelo takes its origin. On the twenty-fifth of April, 590, there set out from the Church of SS. Cosmas and Damian, already the Roman patron saints of medicine, a vast procession, led by St. Gregory the Great, chanting a seven-fold litany of intercession against the plague. The legend relates that Gregory saw on the top of Hadrian's tomb an angel with a drawn sword, which he sheathed as the plague abated"1.

  • Photos by Luca Borghi ti.supmacinu|ihgrob.l# | (March 2009)

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