The Basilica of San Clemente is one of the more interesting sights in the city of Rome. The 12th-century basilica was built over a 4th-century basilica, which in turn was built over a temple to the oriental god Mithras from the 1st century CE.
The lower basilica is adorned with 11th-century frescoes that depict miracles and stories from the lives of Saint Clement and Saint Alexius. (Notice, for example, the beautiful representation of the Miracle of the Black Sea with the marine animals floating around Saint Clement’s underwater chapel.) But one fresco is unlike anything you’d expect in an ancient Christian church. This rare and rather rude fresco displays dialogue in both Latin and the vernacular Italian language, providing a valuable testimony to the evolution of language in Italy.
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