The site is of Augustinian interest because members of the Order of St Augustine ministered and lived there for 140 years before the remodelling of the church into its present architectural design.
But, to begin at the beginning, this church site dates back to the third century. Saint Susanna was a Roman virgin-martyr who died in the persecution of Diocletian. Her name was given to the titulus Caii, the church established in the house of her uncle Pope Caius. The church was later to become a parish church within Rome. Remains of a third-century house have been found in the crypt of the existing church.
The current Church of Santa Susanna displays little evidence of its former early Christian and medieval incarnations. The church as seen there today is not of early medieval style, but rather is a splendid showcase of late Renaissance art and architecture.
In comparison with most Roman churches, Santa Susanna seems broad and spacious, filled with light and awash with pastel colours. The nave is richly frescoed with huge figures, classical vistas and luminous green gardens, and speckled with light golden stucco-work throughout.
This was the work of Rome's most important artists of the late sixteenth century. Their style was a bridge between Renaissance classicism and Baroque exuberance, called Mannerism (emphasis on style rather than on representations of reality), and characterized by a light palette, distorted figures, and unorthodox perspectives.
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