Tiber Isaland

The famous Tiber Island sits in the middle of the Tiber River in the heart of Rome. Based on a legend, it took shape during the reign of Tarquinius the Superb in BC 510. In ancient times the island was the location of a temple to Aesculapius. Today it is home to the Fatebenefratelli hospital, where many Romans boast about being born, as if to claim themselves true Romans. There are also two lovely churches here: the Basilica of San Bartolomeo all’Isola and the Church of San Giovanni Calibita (incorporated into the hospital building).

Dating from 1000, the Basilica was built by the Emperor Otto and is now a sanctuary for 20th-century martyrs. A large icon was placed on the main altar in their memory and letters and diaries concerning their lives are preserved in the side chapels. The 16th-century Church of San Giovanni Calibita can be seen on your right as you approach the hospital.

The church houses a fresco of Our Lady of the Lamp, originally located in an outdoor tabernacle. This fresco is linked with a miraculous event. During the flood of 1557 the image was submerged by the waters of the Tiber. The lamp above the tabernacle also went under, but its light incredibly did not go out. It remained lit until the waters retreated. Not surprisingly, the people of Rome immediately became devoted to this image of Mary.

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