• Sant'Onofrio: Journeying to a Citadel of Faith by John Sonnen

Foreword by Fr. Dana Christensen, KHS

The Renaissance was a time of realization, continuity and rebirth that began in fifteenth-century Italy. The name Renaissance or Classical is given to that manner of building and style of ornament which is an adaptation of the models of ancient Greece and Rome. These ancient classical models helped influence the new architecture and painting of Sant’Onofrio. It is my hope this little book will inspire you, dear pilgrim, and help create a conversation among other pilgrims to venture off the beaten path to explore Sant’Onofrio, a rare legacy of the Italian Renaissance. For the pilgrim visiting Rome, as many of you do with some frequency, I recommend you make time to visit, perhaps in conjunction with a leisurely afternoon stroll on the beautiful Janiculum Hill. — From the Preface

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Praise for Sant’Onofrio

John Paul Sonnen guides his readers through a gripping tour of the church and cloister of Sant’Onofrio al Gianicolo: commencing with the life of the church’s titular saint, the hermit Onuphrius, hidden in the desert of fourth-century Egypt; then to the edifice’s appearance on the Janiculum Hill in Renaissance Rome—sheltering personages such as the great Italian poet Torquato Tasso (1544–1595) and the second apostle of Rome, St. Philip Neri (1515–1595); and concluding with a detailed excursion through the entire complex of Sant’Onofrio, which at present is the official church in Rome of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. This fascinating tour is Catholic in its spirit and catholic in its wide embrace of the historical, geographical, and cultural dimensions of this Citadel of Faith. — Hieromonk Gregory Hrynkiw, S.T.D., Hermitage of the Three Holy Hierarchs, author of Cajetan on Sacred Doctrine (CUA Press, 2020)

Mr. Sonnen’s book offers an insightful and well researched manual for this hidden gem in the heart of Rome. The reader will discover the noteworthy spiritual impact of the church and monastery in Rome through its link between Eastern and Western monasticism and such illustrious personages as St. Philip Neri. The self-guided tour offered in this volume makes it an indispensable companion for those already in love with the history and art of Sant’Onofrio or those who are setting out to discover it. — Dr. phil. Jan C. Bentz, Professor for Philosophy of Art, The Catholic University of America, Rome Campus

This book will capture the hearts of members of the Knights and Dames of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, Church historians, pilgrims who love the Eternal City and many others who love our Catholic Faith.  In this book, John Paul Sonnen has artistically blended the history of the life of Saint Onuphrius, the grandeur and rich history of the Church of Sant’Onofrio al Giancolo and how this Church came to serve as the spiritual center to the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem in the city of Rome.  I recommend this book to Knights and Dames of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and to anyone who loves the Eternal City, the seat of our Catholic Faith. — Fr. Randal Kasel, KHS, Chaplain of the Equestrian Order, Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis

St. Philip Neri used to hold outdoor religious exercises at SantOnofrio on the Janiculum Hill.  It never occurred to me to ask who Sant'Onofrio was.  The first biography of St. Philip that I read, by a learned 19th-century Italian Cardinal, connected St Philip and Sant'Onofrio with Tasso and Tasso's oak.  His assurance that his readers would know who Tasso was made me too embarrassed to admit to myself that I didn't.  John Paul Sonnen's book answers all the questions I failed to ask, and more.  On my next trip to Rome, I intend to visit that beautiful spot with this book in hand as a guide. — Fr. Daniel Utrecht, Ph.D., The Toronto Oratory, author of The Lion of Münster: The Bishop Who Roared Against the Nazis

Often that which is most precious is hidden and discovered by Providence. This is true of the gem of the Church of Sant’Onofrio al Gianicolo in Rome described with an obvious devotion and reverence by John Paul Sonnen in his work bearing the subtitle “Journeying to a Citadel of Faith”. Although hidden from the eyes of so many pilgrims and unknown even to many Romans, the Church is rich in history and a uniquely beautiful mixture of Renaissance and Baroque architecture. 

It was a refuge of prayer, contemplation and of joyful companionship for those who shared the faith and made it their destination of choice. Sonnen’s love for Sant’Onofrio and its history invites the reader to “come and see.”

St. Philip Neri in his holy genius made it the site of the new evangelization of the people of his day. As an Oratorian, therefore, I know now the first place I shall search out in haste on my next pilgrimage to the Holy City! — Fr. David Sloan Abernethy, C.O., The Pittsburgh Oratory,  administrator of Philokalia Ministries

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Size: 6.14 x 9.21 (with color illustrations)

ISBN: 978-1-989905-68-5 | $19.95 USD | paperback
ISBN: 978-1-989905-69-2 | $29.95 USD | hardcover

166 pages

About the Author

John Paul Sonnen is founder and principal of Orbis Catholic Travel LLC. He is one of six children and the product of Catholic education. In 2001, he graduated from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota with a degree in Catholic Studies. That same year, he moved to Vladivostok, Russia, to volunteer as a lay missioner. In 2004, at age twenty-four, he moved to Rome to pursue graduate studies at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, where he earned his graduate degrees in the dogma section of the Faculty of Theology. In 2011, he married Natalie Hudson of Vancouver, British Columbia. They welcomed their first child in 2012. Since 2014, he has been a Knight of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre and also a Knight of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, both honors in recognition of his services to the Church and works of charity on two continents. In his free time, John Paul enjoys his family, garden, library, photography, and visiting churches and museums. His favorite subject is history, and his preferred travel destinations include Rome and Jerusalem.

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Sant'Onofrio: Journeying to a Citadel of Faith by John Sonnen

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