The Geometry of Love
: The Images
Part 9
Sant'Agnese in Agone

Sant'Agnese in Agone, Piazza Navona. Built on the site of the brothel in which, it is said, Saint Agnes was murdered.
"In Piazza Navona today rises the magnificent baroque church of Sant'Agnese in Agone. Underneath it is a series of vaulted rooms that may still be visited. They are the remains of three parallel galleries of arcades that once lay beneath the seats on the outer periphery of the stadium built on this site in the first century A.D. by the Emperor Domitian. The Piazza Navona espouses the outline of the stadium exactly. These vaulted arches, here and in other stadia, were known in Latin as fornices. So common were brothels and stands for prostitutes in such places that the word fornix came to mean 'brothel,' and is the root of the English word 'fornication.'" (p.240)
The baroque facade of the church of Sant' Agnese in the Piazza Navona. This figure, part of Bernini's fountain, pretends that he is afraid the church (which was built by Bernini's rivals) will fall on top of him.
The floor of the brothel under the seats of Domitian's circus: the supposed site of Sant Agnes's martyrdom.
The skull of Saint Agnes is said to be kept inside this alcove.
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