The St. John of the Nymphaeum cemeterial church – 5th century

A large ancient cemetery was located between the city walls and the amphitheater, near the crossing of the Roman roads leading to Trieste and Nesactium. Ogier d' Anglure, a French pilgrim, recorded approximately 400 grave vaults in the area between the amphitheater and the sea in 1396. A memorial church was usually erected in the area of a grave site or a symbolic memory associated with an Early Christian martyr, cleric or bishop, in order to pay homage to the local saint cult. The cemeterial church of St. John was thus erected in the 5th century in front of the town gate, in the immediate vicinity of an ancient spring (Nymphaeum). In the course of time the church was destroyed and forgotten, and as a result of archaeological excavations conducted in 1906, masoned tombs and sarcophagi were discovered along its southern foundations and also somewhat to the east.

The smaller, single-nave church with a width of approximately 11 meters had a rectangular ground plan. Located in the regularly oriented sanctuary in the east was a semicircular bench for the clergy. This type of so-called chamber church was common for the Early Christian Pula diocese in the 5th century. The multi-colored floor mosaic in the sanctuary was decorated with geometric motifs - squares and rosettes of rhombuses with small crosses, a plait and knots in the squares, as well as connected circles with small crosses. A ciborium carved out of local limestone was erected in the church at a later date (probably in the first half of the 11th century), of which only a few cornice fragments with a dedicatory inscription were preserved.

In the 12th century, the order of the Knights Templar erected a hospice next to the water spring at Pula (Fons Nymphea). After the order was abolished, it was taken over by the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. Due to strategic reasons the Venetian authorities demolished several structures that were located outside of the town wall in 1357, and it seems that the St. John of the Nymphaeum church was one of them.


The Holy Jerusalem Voyage of Ogier VIII, Seigneur D' Anglure.

Typo3 site by Ulisys d.o.o. , 2010.