The church of San Sisto Vecchio was built on the ancient ‘titulus Crescentinae’, founded by Pope Anastasius I in the 4th century, while the dedication to Saint Sixtus appeared for the first time only in a document from 595. The entrance to the church today is from Piazzale Numa Pompilio, while it once opened with a four-sided portico on ‘Via Mamertina’, today’s Via Druso.
The church, restored in the 8th century by Hadrian I, was then rebuilt during the pontificate of Innocent III (1198-1216), during which the present Romanesque bell tower (photo 1) with three orders of three-mullioned windows was also erected. Honorius III, in 1219, removed the church from the Order of Canons Regular of Sempringham and entrusted it to Saint Dominic of Guzman and the Order he had founded, the Dominicans, who, however, remained there for only two years, after which they moved to the church of Santa Sabina.
In 1222 St. Dominic succeeded in realising his plan to establish the first cloistered monastic order, the Dominican Sisters, for whom the monastery was specially built.
Although the complex had been restored under Sixtus IV (1471-84), in 1575, due to the unhealthy nature of the place, infested with malaria, it was also abandoned by the Dominican Sisters, who moved to the new church of Santi Domenico e Sisto: from this time on, the church of San Sisto was named with the attribute ‘Vecchio’ (Old) to distinguish it from the church of Santi Domenico e Sisto, in turn called Sisto ‘Nuovo’ (New).
Between 1725 and 1727 the complex, by then fallen into ruin, was renovated at the behest of Pope Benedict XIII by the architect Filippo Raguzzini, who built the present façade and a new cloister to replace the medieval one. In 1873, the monastery was confiscated by the Italian State and used as a material and hearses depot. In 1893, it was a Dominican tertiary, Sister Maria Antonia Lalia, who once again obtained the church premises, to which she not only succeeded in restoring lustre and decorum but, thanks to the new Congregation of Dominican Sisters that she founded here, transformed it into the seat of a prestigious public school, which has been in operation for about 70 years and is still in great demand today.
Plaster overhaul, manual surface removal with verification of the pictorial
layers and then consolidation of the damaged parts
Cleaning of travertine and parts of plaster by means of absorbent
compresses preceded by degreasing and removal from surfaces
Total overhaul of the roof covering and reinstatement of broken tiles
over the entire surface
Restoration of frescoes