The church of Santa Caterina d’Alessandria is located within Villa Abamelek, a park named after the Russian Prince Abamelek who bought it in 1907, which nowadays is the residence of the Russian Ambassador. I discovered it while I was wandering around the Aurelio neighbourhood, the surprisingly underrated area right behind the St. Peter’s Cathedral, and its emerald green dome got my attention.
Since Archimandrite Kliment’s original wish of building a Russian orthodox church in Rome at the end of the 19th century, Saint Catherine the Great Martyr was finally built in 2003, named after a saint worshipped by both Orthodox and Catholics and whose relics are preserved in the church’s basement.
This church is characterized by a Byzantine architecture and interiors frescoed with beautiful icons of Saints. Its onion-shaped domes and eight-arm crosses stand out not only from the green of the surrounding park, but also from the skyline of the neighbourhood, which is characterized by the Vatican dome. Looking at it from the Gianicolo hill, or from the top of Villa Abamelek itself, I’m always amazed by the contrast between St. Peter’s dome and the Orthodox Church dome: they are so close geographically, but yet so distant.