Convent of Santa Sabina on the Aventine Hill: Her Heritage, Artistic and Architectural History

Couvent de Sainte Sabine sur la colline de l’Aventin: Son patrimoine, son histoire Artistique et Architecturale

On December 22, 1216, Pope Honorary III approved the Bull of Confirmation of the Order of Friars Preachers, recognizing universally a project of evangelization that had began at the initiative of the Spanish Dominic of Guzman. Eight centuries of intense spiritual and human history have since passed since the foundation of the Order.

During the just concluded celebration of the Jubilee of the 800 Anniversary of the Confirmation of the Order, we were called to draw from the wealth of our foundation so that we can have the audacity to look to the future with determination and enthusiasm”, fr Bruno Cadoré reminds us.

The Convent of Santa Sabina on the Aventine Hill is the first domicile of the Dominicans in Rome and today the General Curia of the Order. Preserved in it are iconic historical arts which portray the roots of the life and mission of the Order, they preserve the figure of St Dominic and his earliest brothers and sisters.

The volume “Convent of Santa Sabina on the Aventine Hill: Her Heritage, Artistic and Architectural History” is the result of the research into the origins of the Convent of Santa Sabina and the Order.  It intends to celebrate this important icon by outlining her historical and artistic heritage.

The book was put together through a methodology that compares the archaeological study of the architectural monument, archival documentation and textual and iconographic sources. At the same time it presents for the first time, an interesting heterogeneous heritage of preserved works of art in the complex, full of meaningful materials that are often not well known or even never published.

The book also presents an extraordinary panoramic view of the Dominicans in the historical and social contexts of the various epochs; from the origin of the mendicant Orders to the instances of the Reformation, from the onset of the Pontifical State to the return of the Preachers to Santa Sabina in a systematic process of the reformation of the Order through memory and history.

In his introduction to the book, fr Bruno shares his thoughts on the connection between the Convent of Santa Sabina and the Order:

Since the very beginning, the history of the Convent of Santa Sabina has been intimately connected to the history of the Order and thus has become the common home of the family of the daughters and sons of St Dominic. 

The beauty and diversity of her artistic heritage, which has been enriched by the prayers of the earliest brothers, continues to enrich the prayers, study and work of the brothers and sisters who live in the convent today. Thus, it is a great privilege to live and work in such a convent. In this respect, to visit Sainte Sabine, is to visit the history of the Order, to live today in the walls where those who preceded us and transmitted the Order lived, to discover how essential arts were to them.

Because of their beauty and diversity, and the traces of the history of the Order which they bear, the heritage of the Convent of Santa Sabina constitute more than just a patrimony. They indeed establish this Convent as the “abode” of the Order, that is, both as a place where the history of the Order is preserved and transmitted and as a place from which the Order is sent to the world, today and tomorrow”. 

In this sense, taking an inventory of her artistic, architectural and iconographic heritage means becoming more aware of the responsibility of receiving a heritage. This responsibility implies constantly seeking for new ways to transmit what we have received.

This book was put together by a team of experts led by Mauela Gianandrea, Mauela Annibali and Laura Barton. These are Italian researchers and historical experts and curators of the Dominican Museum of Santa Sabina.

The research work was done with the collaboration and support of the Master of the Order, fr Bruno Cadoré, fr Francesco M. Ricci, fr Orlando Rueda Acevedo, fr Dominic Izzo, fr Gaspar Roja Sigaya and fr Hilario Provecho and the entire community of Santa Sabina.

The book which is currently published in Italian was presented to the general public on Monday, 15 May 2017 at the Basilica of Santa Sabina, Rome in the presence of state and city officials and the general public. Copies of the book are available at the bookstore of the Convent of Santa Sabina. You can contact Sr Lucy, OP (


(22 May 2017)